Detergent worker's lung, grain handler's lung, and bird breeder's lung are part of a group of occupational respiratory illnesses that fall under the umbrella of "extrinsic allergic alveolitis."
It may also be referred to as "hypersensitivity pneumonitis." The main characteristic of these diseases is that the thin, delicate tissue located between cells, in the lungs in this case, become inflamed from the overexposure to certain chemicals usually through occupations or personal activities.
Below is a list of common occupational or recreational respiratory illnesses.
Detergent Worker's Lung: As the name implies, this disease occurs in those who work in detergent manufacturing plants. Symptoms such as inflammation, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, cough, fever, chills and body aches may appear after prolonged exposure and inhalation of the chemicals and particles. These particles and chemicals can scar lung tissue resulting in compromised lung function.
Grain Handler's Lung: Inflammation and compromised lung function due to the exposure to bacteria and fungi and spores that grow in stored hay, silage, and grain. Exposure to spoiled hay and grain may also result in a condition known as Armer's Lung. Moist environments are perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and molds.
Mushroom Worker's Lung: This illness is the result of long-term exposure to the mold spores in mushrooms.
Maple Bark Stripper's Lung: This condition is caused by inhalation of the mold in maple bark.
Malt Worker's Lung: This condition affects those who work in breweries and results from the inhalation of moldy malt and barley dust.
Cheese Washer's/Cheese Worker's Lung: Exposure to the Penicillin caseii spores in cheese casings can affect lung function and result in this condition.
Other conditions include: Vineyard sprayer's lung, feather plucker's lung (chicken), duck fever (duck feathers), furrier's lung, hen worker's lung, pigeon breeder's lung, bird breeder's lung, turkey handler's lung (turkey), wheat weevil lung (infested wheat), paprika splitter's lung, and grain measurer's lung (cereal grain).
All of these conditions, with the exception of detergent worker's lung, occur following long-term exposure to mold in its various forms.
To minimize such exposure, it is imperative that worker's in these jobs wear proper masks that actually filter out such molds, and that employers exceed all expectations in maintaining a healthy work environment.
Sources: http:\\emedicine.medscape.com; www.nasdonline.org (National Ag Safety Database); Canadian Medical Association Journal; www.wrongdiagnosis.com; www.nlm.nih.gov (U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health)