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Caution to the Wind: Dirty Horns are the Clarion Call for Microbes

The professional musician who follows her dream of performing on the stage is greeted by an array of unusual occupational hazards. These are not limited to those late night hours spent in bars exposed to cigarette smoke and aggressive groupies but the risks of carpal tunnel, hoarseness, hearing loss, and the longterm effects of strange sleeping schedules as well. For those that provide their marching bands, funk joints, and jazz ensembles with that crucial brass sound, however, they may be at additional risk from a tiny threat hiding within their very own instrument.

With every breath we take, we inhale dust, microbes, fungi, pollen and even dust mites. These particles and flecks of organic matter are often swiftly dealt with by macrophages in our lungs and cause little trouble in the healthy. But for those repeatedly exposed to airborne particles for long periods of time, the immune system can sometimes mount an attack that results in an inflammatory pneumonia, known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis or extrinsic allergic alveolitis, characterized by coughing and shortness of breath.

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