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Environ Health Perspect. 2006 May;114(5):759-62.

Case report: a case of wood-smoke-related pulmonary disease.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94110, USA.



Biomass serves as a major fuel source for >50% of the world's population. The global burden of disease attributed to indoor air pollution from biomass combustion accounts for approximately 3% of worldwide disability-adjusted life-years lost. This is due to pneumonia in children and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer in women.


A 53-year-old man from Mexico was referred to the pulmonary clinic for evaluation of chronic productive cough and pulmonary nodules. In his youth, he worked at a charcoal plant in Mexico, where he burned wood and was exposed to massive amounts of smoke. His evaluation revealed thickened bronchovascular bundles with nodules on thoracic computed tomography, dark black plaques in large airways on bronchoscopy, and carbon-laden macrophages and fibrotic scars on lung biopsy.


The patient was diagnosed with "hut lung," a term that refers to the noninfectious, nonmalignant respiratory manifestations of chronic, high-level exposures to biomass smoke. This is the first reported case of hut lung associated with charcoal production. This case highlights that histopathologic abnormalities of the lung parenchyma may be present in patients with only mild symptoms and that clinical progression is likely a function of both the duration and intensity of exposure.


As residents of lesser developed countries continue to be exposed to high levels of biomass smoke at work or at home and continue to immigrate to developed countries, it is important that health care providers in developed countries be aware of biomass-smoke-related pulmonary disease.

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