Acute pneumonitis associated with nickel carbonyl exposure in the workplace

Nena Bowman, E. Martin Caravati, B. Zane Horowitz, Barbara Insley Crouch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: We describe the clinical course of one industrial technician occupationally exposed to nickel carbonyl (NiC). Case report: A 50-year-old male industrial technician presented with complaints of nausea, myalgia, and cough to a local clinic after suspected occupational exposure to nickel carbonyl. He has no history of lung disease or smoking. His initial urine nickel concentration was 692 ug/L. He had infiltrates on the initial chest X-ray (CXR) and an oxygen saturation (O 2 ) of 97% on room air. The patient was started on disulfiram 1 g by mouth (PO), 500 mg six hours after the first dose, then 250 mg twice daily for five days with prednisone 60 mg by mouth for five days. He presented 48 hours later with worsening respiratory symptoms. His O 2 saturation decreased to 85% despite two days of oral steroids, and he was admitted to a hospital. He received prednisone 60 mg/day PO, 4 L nasal O 2 , and disulfiram 500 mg twice daily. He was discharged on day 7 post-exposure with disulfiram and prednisone. Case discussions: NiC is a severe respiratory irritant. Disulfiram was used off-label and was based on an established company protocol. Conclusions: Inhalation exposure to NiC resulted in a delayed respiratory dysfunction which responded to disulfiram treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-225
Number of pages3
JournalClinical Toxicology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 4 2018


  • Disulfiram
  • nickel carbonyl
  • pneumonitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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