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HEALTH CONSULTATION

FAIRGROUNDS ROAD SITE
TAZWELL, VIRGINIA


DISCUSSION

None of the air samples contained detectable concentrations of asbestos fibers at detection limits of <0.0022-0.0068 fibers per cubic centimeter. The air filter sample did not contain contaminants that would be expected to pose a public health hazard. The Summa canister air sample collected in the living room while the fireplace was burning contained low concentrations of hydrocarbons, but not at levels of health concern. The Summa canister air sample from the boy's bedroom did not contain significant contamination.

The fireplace logs contained 98% non-fibrous particulates and 2% aluminum/silicon fiberglass fibers, but no asbestos fibers. No analyses were conducted for aluminosilicate ceramic fibers in indoor air. In animal experiments, exposure to high concentrations of ceramic fibers in air can cause interstitial fibrosis of the lungs and lung cancer. However, there is no evidence that exposure to ceramic fibers causes eosinophilic pneumonia.

The exact cause of acute and chronic eosinophilic pneumonia is not known, but it is believed to be the result of a hypersensitivity reaction to an allergen. Agents that may induce eosinophilic lung disease include the following:

  • Drugs and chemicals: sulfonamides, penicillin, chlorpropamide, thiazides, tricyclic antidepressants, hydralazine, mephenesin, mecamylamine, nickel carbonyl vapor, gold salts, isoniazid, para-aminosalicylic acid
  • Parasitic infections: ascariasis, schistomiasis, strongyloides, visceral larva migrans
  • Fungal infections: allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis

In March, the patient was treated with Bactrim for otis media. Bactrim contains sulfamethoxazole, a sulfonamide antibiotic. Sulfonamides have been identified as a possible cause of eosinophilic pneumonia. However, the boy's physicians do not believe that this was the precipitating agent in this patient. None of the contaminants detected during environmental sampling in the house are known to cause eosinophilic pneumonia.

The cause of the patient's medical condition is not known, but other factors besides environmental chemical contamination could be involved.


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