Asthma and suberose alveolitis caused by cork

  • Cork making industry

Cork, Moulds.

Incidence: very common in the Portuguese cork making industry.
Atopic subjects readily contract asthma whereas non atopic subjects immediately develop alveolitis. In Portuguese studies, 98% of subjects affected had precipitins compared to 7% of healthy subjects. Cork itself does not play an important role.
All types of work involving the use of cork in hot and humid places may result in exposure to the moulds responsible for the symptoms.(often Penicillium strains).
Asthma and feverish pulmonary disorders follow each other and are associated with unstable pulmonary infiltrates.
Diagnostic methods
Skin tests with moulds are possible in principle.
The link between precipitins for corks, clinical indices and measurements of respiratory function enables diagnosis to be made. In 2001, a Portuguese study which assessed peak expiratory flow rates at the workplace, suggested that occupational asthma may develop in cork workers, in the absence of alveolitis.


  1. J. Asthma 2001,38:357 - Winck J.C et al.
  2. Lancet 1968,1:620
  3. Clin. Allergy 1974,4:109

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.