Asthma and bronchopulmonary illness caused by vanadium

  • Cleaning staff
  • Refinery worker
  • Steel industry
Vanadium, Vanadium chloroplatinate, Vanadium pentoxide.

Incidence: directly related to the quantity of dust to which the subject is exposed.
The mechanism is probably not IgE-dependent.
Positive skin tests results have been reported when the measurement is taken late.
Atopy does not play a role in this condition. However, a predisposition to bronchial hyperreactivity and/or smoking have been identified as aggravating factors.
Avoidance of the risk does not always result in the disappearance of the bronchial hyperreactivity.
In the industries listed the exposure to the risk occurs particularly during the manufacture of catalysts and during the cleaning of various heating units.
Inhalation of V2O5 (the most toxic form) can result in bronchial hyperreactivity in subjects with no other respiratory pathology. Very high doses are dangerous.
Dyspnoea and cough associated with localised crackles, nasal and conjunctival haemorrhage. Serious asthenia. Symptoms are delayed.
Diagnostic methods
Skin tests: with 2% sodium vanadate, read after 48 hours.
Measurement of vanadium levels in urine is the most reliable measure of exposure.


  1.  J. Toxicol. Clin. Toxicol. 1999,37:266 - Barceloux D.G. et al.
  2. Am. J. Ind. Med. 1999,35:366 - Irsigler G.B. et al.
  3. Eur. Resp. J. 1990,3:202
  4. Med. J. Austr. 1982,1:183
  5. Arch. Env. Hlth. 1967,14:709

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