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July 1957

Metal-Fume Fever from Inhaling Zinc Oxide

Author Affiliations


From the Medical Service, U. S. Naval Hospital, Oakland, Calif.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1957;100(1):44-49. doi:10.1001/archinte.1957.00260070058005

Metal-fume fever is an acute industrial illness which follows the inhalation of finely dispersed particulate matter formed when certain metals are volatilized. The oxides of the following metals are capable of causing the disease: antimony, arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, magnesium, manganese, mercury, nickel, tin, and zinc.1-5 When zinc or one of its alloys is burned, melted, or heated in air to greater than 930 F, the oxide is formed as a fine dispersion of dry particles of about 1μ in size. The inhalation of these causes a common, transient, benign form of metal-fume fever. In the past this disease has been called "brass founder's ague," "zinc fever," "zinc chills," "Spelter's shakes," "glavo," and "metal shakes."1,4 Industrial workers in recent years who perform bronzing, galvanizing, copper rolling, or welding of zinc or galvanized iron have experienced symptoms of this disease.1

Symptomatology  During exposure to the fumes

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