Respiratory and Lung Disease Chemical Causalities

Lung disease affects children and elderly people the most.  Asthma, allergies, bronchitis, and sinusitis are just some of the more common respiratory diseases cause by air pollution



There are many types of lung disease and respiratory disease and also many potentially toxic chemicals and toxic substances which have shown evidence of playing a part in the development of these diseases in Humans. The chart below lists many of these respiratory and lung diseases and links to lists of toxic chemicals and substances which have a likely causal link.

Respiratory Disease and Lung Disease Chart - with links to likely Toxic Chemical causes

  • Asbestosis
  • Asthma - allergic
  • Asthma - irritant
  • Berylliosis
  • Black Lung Disease
  • Bronchiolitis obliterans
  • Bronchitis - acute
  • Bronchitis - chronic
  • Brown lung disease (byssinosis)
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Flock workers disease
  • Hard metal disease
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Metal fume fever
  • Nasal polyps
  • Nasal septal perforation
  • Nasopharyngeal/Sino-Nasal cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Pleural disease (effusions, plaques, thickening)
  • Pneumoconiosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Pneumonitis (hypersensitivity)
  • Polymer Fume Fever
  • Pulmonary disease-anemia syndrome
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Rhinitis - allergic
  • Rhinitis - irritant
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Silicosis
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

  • Conclusive causal relationships are difficult to establish because chemical exposure is variably manefest in lung disease or respiratory disease symptoms based on many interconnected physical, environmental, and genetic factors which are hard to quantify, predict, or define. Some examples, are genetic makeup, quantity of dose exposure, duration of exposure, route of exposure, concurrent or previous exposures to other chemicals (such as from cigarette smoke), age, and lifestyle factors like diet, level of activity, alcohol consumption, smoking, or UV exposure.

    Since the Industrial Revolution over 100,000 additional industrial and household chemicals have been manufactured, distributed, used, and dispersed into our environment. Detectable amounts of many of these chemicals now exists in the air, water, food, and consequently OUR BLOOD! However, less than 6% of all chemicals have been tested for toxic health effects. Consequently, many of us are being exposed to multiple toxic chemical contaminants on a daily basis yet have little understanding of the dangers of those exposures such as from the above listed lung diseases or respiratory diseases.

    While we do not understand the potential toxic effects of most chemicals by themselves, worse yet is our understanding of how different chemicals may interact to affect our health. The chemical cocktails we take into our bodies may have opposing, additive, or synergistic health affects. For example, someone who was exposed to Asbestos Fibers or high levels of Radon and also smokes cigarettes can be up to 25 times more likely to develop lung cancer. This risk is far greater than the sum of the individual chemicals' health risks. This is probably because cancer is a two step process of initiation of genetic damage and promotion of cell division incorporating that genetic damage into new cells before that damage can be repaired. The cigarette smoke damages the lungs cells and genetic contents while the asbestos lodged inside the lungs continuously stimulate the immune system and cell division in an attempt to repair and remove the fixed particles. The end result is uncontrolled cancerous cell division or lung disease.

    The following information about chemicals which may cause lung disease was obtained primarily from the following sources:

    • Klaassen CD, Ed. Casarett and Doull's Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons, 6th edition. (2001) McGraw-Hill publishing, New York.
    • LaDou J. Ed. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 3rd edition (2004), Lange Medical/McGraw-Hill, New York.
    • Rom WM, Ed. Environmental and Occupational Medicine, 3rd edition (1998). Lippincott-Raven, Philadelphia, PA.

    Chemicals linked to the below respiratory diseases and lung diseases have been catergorized as follows:

    • [Strong]
    • indicates a clear causal link with the lung disease or respiratory disease has been verified by the medical community. Also included in this category are Group 1 human carcinogens as defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). These chemicals are known to cause cancer is humans based on substantial evidence.
    • [Good]
    • indicates some evidence of human health effects through epideological studies and strong corroborating evidence via animal studies (IARC Group 2A chemicals).
    • [Limited]
    • indicates limited or conflicting evidence of association with lung disease or respiratory disease in humans based on only a few case reports of exposed individuals, non-conclusive epidemeological studies, and animal toxicity. IARC Group 2B chemicals and EPA Group B2 chemicals which show limited or inadequate evidence of animal or human carcinogenicity.


    • Asbestosis
    • (Back to Top)

    • Asthma - allergic
    • (Back to Top)
      • Acid anhydrides [Strong]
      • acrylates [Strong]
      • aluminum [Strong]
      • Amines [Strong]
      • amylase [Strong]
      • Animal antigens [Strong]
      • captafol [Strong]
      • Chlorothalonil [Strong]
      • Chromium [Strong]
      • cobalt [Strong]
      • colophony [Strong]
      • Egg lysosyme [Strong]
      • Enzymes [Strong]
      • Epoxy resins [Strong]
      • Ethanolamines [Strong]
      • ethylenediamine [Strong]
      • Fiber dust [Strong]
      • Fungal antigens [Strong]
      • glutaraldehyde [Strong]
      • Grain dust [Strong]
      • Insect antigens [Strong]
      • Isocyanates [Strong]
      • Latex [Strong]
      • Metal fumes [Strong]
      • Methacrylates [Strong]
      • nickel [Strong]
      • p-phenylenediamine [Strong]
      • papain [Strong]
      • pepsin [Strong]
      • Plant pollens [Strong]
      • Plastic dusts [Strong]
      • Plastic fumes [Strong]
      • platinum [Strong]
      • polypropylene [Strong]
      • PVC [Strong]
      • subtilase [Strong]
      • trypsin [Strong]
      • tungsten carbide [Strong]
      • vanadium [Strong]
      • Wood dust [Strong]
      • acetaldehyde [Good]
      • acrolein [Good]
      • Air pollution [Good]
      • Aldehydes [Good]
      • Coal dust [Good]
      • Diazonium salts [Good]
      • Diesel exhaust [Good]
      • ethylene oxide [Good]
      • Formaldehyde [Good]
      • hexachlorophene [Good]
      • ozone [Good]
      • Persulfate salts [Good]
      • Phenols [Good]
      • propionaldehyde [Good]
      • Pyrethins/Pyrethroids [Good]
      • Reactive dyes [Good]
      • sulfathiazole [Good]
      • Tannic acid [Good]
      • aziridine [Limited]
      • azodicarbonamide [Limited]
      • Phthalates [Limited]
      • senna [Limited]
      • styrene [Limited]

    • Asthma - irritant (Back to Top)
      • Acids [Strong]
      • Air pollution [Strong]
      • Ammonia [Strong]
      • chlorine [Strong]
      • Cotton dust [Strong]
      • Diesel exhaust [Strong]
      • Ethylene amines [Strong]
      • hydrogen sulfide [Strong]
      • nitrogen dioxide [Strong]
      • Particulate air pollution (soot) [Strong]
      • sulfur dioxide [Strong]
      • Tobacco Smoke (Active smoking) [Strong]
      • Tobacco smoke (Secondhand) [Strong]
      • 1,1-dichloroethane [Good]
      • Carbamates [Good]
      • chloramine [Good]
      • Hydrazines [Good]
      • Oil fly ash [Good]
      • Organophosphates [Good]
      • osmium tetraoxide [Good]
      • ozone [Good]
      • Pesticides [Good]
      • phosgene [Good]
      • Benzene [Limited]
      • caprolactam [Limited]
      • chloroform [Limited]
      • dibromochloropropane (DBCP) [Limited]
      • dibutyl phthalate (DBP) [Limited]
      • dicyclohexyl phthalate [Limited]
      • dimethyl sulfate [Limited]
      • Fragrances [Limited]
      • Phthalates [Limited]
      • tetrachloroisophthalonitrile [Limited]
      • toluene [Limited]

    • Berylliosis (Back to Top)
      • beryllium [Strong]

    • Black Lung Disease (Back to Top)
      • Coal dust [Strong]

    • Bronchiolitis obliterans (Back to Top)
      • chlorine [Strong]
      • diacetyl [Strong]
      • hydrogen sulfide [Strong]
      • Irritant gases [Strong]
      • Nitrogen oxides [Strong]
      • ozone [Strong]
      • phosgene [Strong]
      • sulfur dioxide [Strong]
      • acramin-FWN [Good]
      • Nylon fibers [Good]
      • Polyamide-amine dyes [Good]
      • thionyl chloride [Good]

    • Bronchitis - acute (Back to Top)
      • Ammonia [Strong]
      • chlorine [Strong]
      • Chromium@ [Strong]
      • hydrochloric acid [Strong]
      • Mercury [Strong]
      • beryllium [Good]
      • manganese [Good]
      • ozone [Good]
      • tellurium [Good]
      • Organochlorine pesticides [Limited]
      • Organophosphates [Limited]
      • Pesticides [Limited]
      • vanadium [Limited]

    • Bronchitis - chronic (Back to Top)
      • aluminum [Strong]
      • Ammonia [Strong]
      • antimony [Strong]
      • Cement dust [Strong]
      • Coal dust [Strong]
      • Cotton dust [Strong]
      • Engine exhaust [Strong]
      • Fire smoke [Strong]
      • Grain dust [Strong]
      • Hemp dust [Strong]
      • iron oxide [Strong]
      • Isocyanates [Strong]
      • Jute dust [Strong]
      • Metals [Strong]
      • Oil mists [Strong]
      • Organic dusts [Strong]
      • osmium [Strong]
      • Particulate air pollution (soot) [Strong]
      • silica [Strong]
      • sulfur dioxide [Strong]
      • Tobacco Smoke (Active smoking) [Strong]
      • vanadium [Strong]
      • Welding fumes [Strong]
      • Wood dust [Strong]
      • 1,1-dichloroethane [Good]
      • Arsenic [Good]
      • carbon black [Good]
      • Grain dust [Good]
      • PCBs [Good]
      • phosgene [Good]
      • Solvents [Good]
      • Tobacco smoke (Secondhand) [Good]
      • Pesticides [Limited]

    • Brown lung disease (byssinosis) (Back to Top)
      • Cotton dust [Strong]
      • Flax dust [Strong]
      • Hemp dust [Strong]
      • Jute dust [Strong]
      • Sisal dust [Strong]

    • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • (Back to Top)

      • Cement dust [Strong]
      • Coal dust [Strong]
      • Cotton dust [Strong]
      • Particulate air pollution (soot) [Strong]
      • Tobacco Smoke (Active smoking) [Strong]
      • vanadium [Strong]
      • Wood dust [Strong]
      • antimony [Good]
      • cadmium [Good]
      • Chromium [Good]
      • Grain dust [Good]
      • Irritant gases [Good]
      • Metal fumes [Good]
      • ozone [Good]
      • silica [Good]
      • sodium hydroxide [Good]
      • Tobacco smoke (Secondhand) [Good]
      • Ammonia [Limited]
      • Arsenic [Limited]
      • chlorine [Limited]
      • manganese [Limited]
      • nickel carbonyl [Limited]
      • nitrogen dioxide [Limited]
      • sulfur dioxide [Limited]

    • Flock workers disease (Back to Top)
      • Nylon fibers [Good]

    • Hard metal disease (Back to Top)
      • cobalt [Strong]

    • Laryngeal cancer (Back to Top)
      • ethyl alcohol (ethanol) [Strong]
      • Mineral oils [Strong]
      • PAHs [Strong]
      • sulfuric acid+ [Strong]
      • Tobacco Smoke (Active smoking) [Strong]
      • Asbestos Fibers [Good]
      • diethyl sulfate# [Good]
      • Leather dust [Good]
      • Mustard gas [Good]
      • nickel [Good]
      • Wood dust [Good]
      • acetaldehyde^ [Limited]
      • Agent Orange [Limited]
      • Formaldehyde [Limited]
      • Pesticides [Limited]
      • Petrochemicals [Limited]
      • vinyl chloride [Limited]

    • Lung cancer (Back to Top)
      • aluminum [Strong]
      • Arsenic+ [Strong]
      • Asbestos Fibers+ [Strong]
      • attapulgite [Strong]
      • benzo(a)pyrene# [Strong]
      • beryllium+ [Strong]
      • cadmium+ [Strong]
      • Chloromethyl ethers+ [Strong]
      • chromium (VI)+ [Strong]
      • Coal tars+ [Strong]
      • Diesel exhaust# [Strong]
      • Ionizing radiation [Strong]
      • Mineral oils+ [Strong]
      • Mustard gas+ [Strong]
      • nickel+ [Strong]
      • PAHs [Strong]
      • Particulate air pollution (soot)+ [Strong]
      • Particulate air pollution (soot) [Strong]
      • Radon+ [Strong]
      • silica+ [Strong]
      • Tobacco Smoke (Active smoking)+ [Strong]
      • Tobacco smoke (Secondhand)+ [Strong]
      • uranium [Strong]
      • Acid aerosols [Good]
      • Aromatic amines [Good]
      • benz(a)anthracene# [Good]
      • Chlorophenols [Good]
      • Coal dust [Good]
      • copper [Good]
      • dibenz(a,h)anthracene# [Good]
      • dimethyl sulfate# [Good]
      • epichlorohydrin# [Good]
      • Formaldehyde [Good]
      • Nitrosamines [Good]
      • NNK [Good]
      • PAHs [Good]
      • Solvents [Good]
      • 1,2-dichloroethane^ [Limited]
      • acrylamide [Limited]
      • acrylonitrile^ [Limited]
      • Agent Orange [Limited]
      • antimony^ [Limited]
      • Benzene [Limited]
      • bromoform [Limited]
      • cacodylic acid [Limited]
      • Carbamates [Limited]
      • Ceramic fibers^ [Limited]
      • chlordane^ [Limited]
      • chlorpyrifos [Limited]
      • cobalt^ [Limited]
      • cypermethrin [Limited]
      • daminozide (Alar) [Limited]
      • DDT/DDE^ [Limited]
      • diazinon [Limited]
      • dibromochloropropane (DBCP)^ [Limited]
      • dichloropropene [Limited]
      • Dioxins/TCDD^ [Limited]
      • ethylene oxide [Limited]
      • fluoride [Limited]
      • Formaldehyde [Limited]
      • Glasswool^ [Limited]
      • Herbicides [Limited]
      • Hydrazines^ [Limited]
      • hydrochloric acid` [Limited]
      • isoprene^ [Limited]
      • Lead# [Limited]
      • methylene chloride^ [Limited]
      • metolachlor [Limited]
      • Nitrobenzenes [Limited]
      • nitrosomorpholine [Limited]
      • Organochlorine pesticides [Limited]
      • paraquat [Limited]
      • pendimethalin [Limited]
      • permethrin [Limited]
      • Pesticides [Limited]
      • Phenoxyacetic herbicides [Limited]
      • Pyrethins/Pyrethroids [Limited]
      • Rockwool^ [Limited]
      • Slagwool^ [Limited]
      • styrene^ [Limited]
      • Talc [Limited]
      • terrazole [Limited]
      • tetrachloroethylene (PCE) [Limited]
      • tetranitromethane^ [Limited]
      • trichloroethylene (TCE) [Limited]
      • urethane [Limited]
      • vinyl chloride [Limited]

    • Mesothelioma (Back to Top)
      • Asbestos Fibers+ [Strong]
      • erionite+ [Strong]
      • Ionizing radiation [Good]
      • zeolite [Good]
      • beryllium [Limited]
      • Ceramic fibers [Limited]
      • ethylene oxide [Limited]
      • nickel [Limited]
      • propylene oxide [Limited]
      • silica [Limited]
      • Talc [Limited]

    • Metal fume fever (Back to Top)
      • magnesium [Strong]
      • zinc oxide [Strong]
      • copper [Good]
      • Arsenic [Limited]
      • boron [Limited]
      • cadmium [Limited]
      • manganese [Limited]
      • nickel [Limited]
      • tin [Limited]
      • titanium [Limited]

    • Nasal polyps (Back to Top)
      • Chromium [Strong]
      • Wood dust [Strong]

    • Nasal septal perforation (Back to Top)
      • Chromium [Strong]
      • Arsenic [Good]
      • beryllium [Good]
      • copper [Good]
      • nickel [Good]
      • antimony [Limited]

    • Nasopharyngeal/Sino-Nasal cancer (Back to Top)
      • chromium (VI)+ [Strong]
      • Formaldehyde+ [Strong]
      • Leather dust [Strong]
      • nickel+ [Strong]
      • Tobacco Smoke (Active smoking)+ [Strong]
      • Tobacco smoke (Secondhand) [Strong]
      • Wood dust [Strong]
      • diisopropyl sulfate [Good]
      • Isopropyl oils [Good]
      • PAHs [Good]
      • 1,4-dioxane^ [Limited]
      • 2,4,5-T [Limited]
      • acetaldehyde^ [Limited]
      • acetochlor [Limited]
      • alachlor [Limited]
      • Benzene [Limited]
      • Chlorophenols [Limited]
      • dibromochloropropane (DBCP)^ [Limited]
      • ethylene dibromide (EDB)# [Limited]
      • Herbicides^ [Limited]
      • hexamethylphosphoramide [Limited]
      • Hydrazines^ [Limited]
      • MCPA [Limited]
      • Mustard gas [Limited]
      • naphthalene^ [Limited]
      • Nitrosamines [Limited]
      • pentachlorophenol (PCP) [Limited]
      • Pesticides [Limited]
      • propylene oxide [Limited]
      • radium [Limited]

    • Oral cancer (Back to Top)
      • Smokeless tobacco products+ [Strong]
      • Tobacco smoke+ [Strong]
      • ethyl alcohol (ethanol) [Good]
      • Nitrosamines [Good]
      • NNK [Good]
      • NNN [Good]
      • acetaldehyde^ [Limited]
      • PAHs [Limited]

    • Pleural disease (effusions, plaques, thickening) (Back to Top)
      • Ceramic fibers [Strong]
      • Asbestos Fibers [Strong]
      • Talc [Strong]
      • mica [Good]

    • Pneumoconiosis (Back to Top)
      • antimony [Strong]
      • Asbestos Fibers [Strong]
      • Ceramic fibers [Strong]
      • Talc [Strong]
      • bentonite [Good]
      • iron [Good]
      • Metals* [Good]
      • tin [Good]
      • attapulgite [Limited]
      • barium [Limited]
      • Cement [Limited]
      • fluoride [Limited]
      • PVC [Limited]
      • wollastonite [Limited]

    • Pneumonia (Back to Top)
      • beryllium [Good]
      • cadmium [Good]
      • manganese [Good]
      • Mercury [Good]
      • nickel [Good]
      • nitrogen dioxide [Good]
      • tellurium [Good]
      • vanadium [Good]
      • zinc [Good]
      • 1,1-dichloroethane [Limited]
      • Isocyanates [Limited]
      • Pesticides [Limited]
      • trimellitic anhydride [Limited]

    • Pneumonitis (hypersensitivity) (Back to Top)
      • beryllium [Strong]
      • cadmium [Strong]
      • Chromium [Strong]
      • cobalt [Strong]
      • Epoxy resins [Strong]
      • Heavy metals [Strong]
      • Isocyanates [Strong]
      • Mercury [Strong]
      • nickel [Strong]
      • Organic dusts* [Strong]
      • Pyrethins/Pyrethroids [Strong]
      • trimellitic anhydride [Strong]
      • zinc [Strong]
      • aluminum [Good]
      • Arsenic [Good]
      • chlorine [Good]
      • manganese [Good]

    • Polymer Fume Fever (Back to Top)
      • polytetrafluoroethylene [Strong]
      • polyvinyl fluoride [Strong]
      • Teflon [Strong]

    • Pulmonary disease-anemia syndrome (Back to Top)
      • trimellitic anhydride [Strong]

    • Pulmonary edema (Back to Top)
      • diquat [Strong]
      • hydrogen sulfide [Strong]
      • paraquat [Strong]
      • phosgene [Strong]
      • Ammonia [Good]
      • beryllium [Good]
      • Chloro-Phosphate compounds [Good]
      • ethylene oxide [Good]
      • Formaldehyde [Good]
      • hydrofluoric acid [Good]
      • Mercury [Good]
      • methyl bromide [Good]
      • nickel [Good]
      • Nitrogen oxides [Good]
      • Organophosphates [Good]
      • phosphine [Good]
      • tetrachloroethylene (PCE) [Good]
      • Thioureas [Good]
      • zinc [Good]
      • 1,1-dichloroethane [Limited]
      • aluminum [Limited]
      • antimony [Limited]
      • boron [Limited]
      • cadmium [Limited]
      • ozone [Limited]
      • polytetrafluoroethylene [Limited]
      • selenium [Limited]

    • Pulmonary fibrosis (Back to Top)
      • aluminum [Strong]
      • Asbestos Fibers [Strong]
      • Coal dust [Strong]
      • paraquat [Strong]
      • silica [Strong]
      • Tobacco smoke [Strong]
      • beryllium [Good]
      • Chromium [Good]
      • nickel [Good]
      • vinyl chloride [Good]
      • cadmium [Limited]
      • copper [Limited]
      • fluoride [Limited]
      • gold [Limited]
      • Mercury [Limited]
      • ozone [Limited]
      • phosgene [Limited]

    • Rhinitis - allergic (Back to Top)
      • Acid anhydrides [Strong]
      • amylase [Strong]
      • Chromium [Strong]
      • cobalt [Strong]
      • Diisocyanates [Strong]
      • Guar gum [Strong]
      • Latex [Strong]
      • Metal salts [Strong]
      • nickel [Strong]
      • Organic dusts [Strong]
      • platinum [Strong]
      • trimellitic anhydride [Strong]
      • vanadium [Strong]
      • Wood dust [Strong]
      • Diesel exhaust [Good]
      • Phthalates [Limited]

    • Rhinitis - irritant (Back to Top)
      • Air pollution [Strong]
      • Aldehydes [Strong]
      • Ammonia [Strong]
      • chlorine [Strong]
      • Diesel exhaust [Strong]
      • nitrogen dioxide [Strong]
      • ozone [Strong]
      • phosgene [Strong]
      • sulfur dioxide [Strong]
      • VOCs [Strong]

    • Sarcoidosis Lung Disease (Back to Top)
      • silica [Good]
      • aluminum [Limited]
      • barium [Limited]
      • beryllium [Limited]
      • cobalt [Limited]
      • copper [Limited]
      • gold [Limited]
      • titanium [Limited]
      • zirconium [Limited]

    • Silicosis Lung Disease (Back to Top)
      • silica [Strong]

    • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (Back to Top)
      • Tobacco smoke (Secondhand) [Strong]

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