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Epidemiol Health > Volume 43; 2021 > Article
Epidemiology and Health 2021;43: e2021091-0.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2021091    Published online Nov 1, 2021.
A comprehensive study of deaths due to exposure to humidifier disinfectant in Korea: focusing on medical records, assessment of exposure to humidifier disinfectants, and causes of death
Yeong Jun Ju1  , Seungho Lee2  , Seungsoo Sheen3  , Dong-Woo Choi4  , Jong-Han Leem5,6  , Soon Young Lee1 
1Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea
2Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea
3Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Ajou University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea
4Data Link and Operation Team, Cancer Data Center, National Cancer Control Institute, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea
5Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Inha University Hospital, Incheon, Korea
6Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Inha University School of Medicine, Incheon, Korea
Correspondence  Soon Young Lee ,Email: solee@ajou.ac.kr
Received: Mar 2, 2021  Accepted after revision: Sep 8, 2021
Abstract
OBJECTIVES:
We aimed to determine the characteristics of the deceased victims of deaths caused by exposure to humidifier disinfectants, and present the distribution of the victims’ data submitted for damage application, demographic characteristics, imaging findings, characteristics of humidifier disinfectant exposure, and distribution of the causes of death.
METHODS:
An integrated database of victims was established using the medical records data of 1,413 victims submitted during the application for death damage caused by exposure to humidifier disinfectants, and the demographic characteristics, medical records, imaging findings, exposure characteristics, and cause of death were examined.
RESULTS:
The average numbers of data submissions of each applicant for death damage were 3.0 medical use records. A total of 608 (43.0%) victims had more than one finding of acute, subacute, or chronic interstitial lung diseases. The average daily and cumulative use times of the victims were 14.40 and 24,645.81 hours, respectively, indicating greater exposure in this group than in the survivors. The humidifier disinfectants’ components comprised polyhexamethylene guanidine (72.8%), chloromethylisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (10.5%), other components (15.0%), and oligo-[2-(2-ethoxy)-ethoxyethyl] guanidine chloride (1.5%). The components’ distribution was 67.8% for single-component use, which was higher than that in the survivors (59.8%). The distribution of the causes of death were: respiratory diseases (54.4%), neoplasms (16.8%), and circulatory diseases (6.3%). Other interstitial lung diseases (65.5%) were the most common cause of death among those who died due to respiratory diseases.
CONCLUSIONS:
Careful discussions of appropriate remedies should be conducted based on a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of the deceased victims, considering their specificities and limitations.
Keywords: Humidifiers, Disinfectants, Cause of death, Medical records, Deceased victims
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