Review of Inhalation Health Risks Involving Chloromethylisothiazolinone (CMIT) and Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) Used as Disinfectants in Household Humidifiers


The association between lung injury and exposure to humidifier disinfectant (HD) containing a mixture of chloromethylisothiazolinone (CMIT) and methylisothiazolinone (MIT) has been controversial in South Korea. This study conducts a literature review in order to evaluate the likelihood of CMIT/MIT reaching the lower part of the respiratory tract and causing lung injury. A literature review focused on the inhalation risk of HD containing a mixture of CMIT and MIT. The major contents included the physicochemical properties of CMIT and MIT contained in HDs and methodological reviews on substance analysis, toxicity tests and clinical cases. HD products marketed in South Korea have been reported to contain approximately 1-2% CMIT and 0.2-0.6% MIT along with magnesium nitrate (20-25%), magnesium chloride (0.2-1.0%), and water (70-75%). The types of CMIT and MIT dispersed into the air and deposited in the respiratory tract are assumed to be either gaseous substances or nanoparticles mixed with magnesium salts. The result of the literature review including clinical cases of lung injury among CMIT/MIT HD product users, demonstrated that these chemicals likely reach the lower respiratory tract and accordingly cause lung injury. A number of humidifier disinfectant-associated lung injury cases with clinical evidence should be prioritized in risk assessment of HD containing CMIT and MIT, even though there might be insufficient evidence in all related areas, including inhalation exposure assessment studies, animal testing, and epidemiological studies.

Authors: Jiwon Kim, Soyoung Park, Kyung Ehi Zoh, Jihoon Park, Sangjun Choi, Sung Ho Hwang, So-Yeon Lee, Dong-Uk Park
; Full Source: Journal of Korean medical science 2022 Apr 4;37(13):e101. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2022.37.e101.