Acute noncardiogenic pulmonary edema due to polymer fume fever

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Certain fluorocarbon polymers can produce a clinical syndrome called polymer fume fever when the products of pyrolysis are inhaled.


A previously healthy 21-year-old white man presented with severe chest tightness, difficulty in breathing, pyrexia, nausea, vomiting, and a dry irritating cough. These symptoms occurred suddenly while smoking a cigarette 2 hours after leaving his place of work, where he is a plastics machinist. A chest roentgenogram revealed a bilateral patchy alveolar air space filling pattern involving the mid and lower lung fields. The diagnosis of polymer fume fever was established on the basis of the symptom complex, the association with cigarette smoking, and the occupational exposure to micronized polytetrafluoroethylene.


A thorough occupational and smoking history is necessary to recognize polymer fume disease, which may resemble influenza.


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