Six electrical workers accidentally exposed to degradation products of sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) during electrical repair work were followed up for one year. One degradation product, sulphur tetrafluoride (SF4), was identified from worksite measurements. Unprotected exposure in an underground enclosed space occurred for six hours over a 12 hour period. Initial symptoms included shortness of breath, chest tightness, productive cough, nose and eye irritation, headache, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms subsided when exposure was interrupted during attempts to identify the cause of the problem. Although exposure ended after several hours, four workers remained symptomatic for between one week and one month. Pulmonary radiographic abnormalities included several discrete areas of transitory platelike atelectasis in one worker, and a slight diffuse infiltrate in the left lower lobe of another. One worker showed transient obstructive changes in tests of pulmonary function. Examination at follow up after one year showed no persistent abnormalities. Preliminary data from this paper were presented at the VIIth international pneumoconioses conference. Pittsburgh, PA, August 1988.
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