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Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2008 Dec;29(6):620-30. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1101272. Epub 2009 Feb 16.

Exposure-related diffuse lung disease.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, National Jewish Health, Denver, Colorado 80206, USA.


Practicing pulmonologists are often faced with the question of whether a lung disease is related to something in the patient's workplace, home, or recreational environment. Recognizing a lung disease as exposure related creates both opportunities and obligations for clinicians. In addition to managing the patient, the obligation to consider risks to others and to prevent ongoing exposure is a challenge that requires diagnostic clarity and collaboration between multiple specialists. We present five illustrative case studies of patients with diffuse lung diseases from environmental and occupational exposures in which communication between the pulmonologist, radiologist, and pathologist was essential for both medical and public health management. Diagnostic and treatment strategies as well as social and preventive interventions are reviewed, with key points for the practicing pulmonologist.

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