The development of asthma-like symptoms among aluminum potroom workers has been associated with exposure to fluorides. In the present study, the immediate nasal response in humans was examined subsequent to short-term hydrogen fluoride (HF) exposure. Ten healthy subjects were exposed to HF (3.3-3.9 mg/m(3)) for 1 h. Nasal lavage (NAL) was performed before, immediately after, and 1.5 h after the end of exposure. Control lavages were performed on the same subjects at the same time points but without HF exposure. At the end of HF exposure, 7 of 10 individuals reported upper airway symptoms. A significant increase was observed in the number of neutrophils and total cells, while there was a decrease in cell viability. The changes in neutrophil numbers correlated significantly with the reported airway symptoms. HF also induced a significant increase in tumor necrosis factor-alpha and the total protein content of NAL fluid. Among the eicosanoids, prostaglandin E(2), leukotriene B(4), and peptide leukotrienes were elevated after exposure. Of the antioxidants measured, the concentration of uric acid increased after exposure. In conclusion, exposure to HF induced immediate nasal inflammatory and antioxidant responses in healthy human volunteers. These findings may contribute to a further understanding of the way HF exerts damage to the airways and show that HF could represent an occupational hazard.