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Dermatitis from plastic tote boxes impregnated with an antistatic agent.

Bennett DE; Mathias CG; Susten AS; Fannick NL; Smith AB
J Occup Med 1988 Mar; 30(3):252-255
An outbreak of dermatitis among employees exposed to plastic tote boxes impregnated with the antistatic agent bis-hydroxyethyl-tallow- amine (BHETA) was described. Dermatitis of the hands or arms was reported by 14 of 29 employees of the incoming inspection department of a microelectronics firm in 1985; newly purchased plastic tote boxes had been used in the department. Occasional corrosion of electrical components stored in the new plastic tote boxes had been observed. An oily film was detected on the surfaces of the new boxes; mass spectrometry and infrared spectroscope analysis of the film showed it to be BHETA. At the time of the investigation, two subjects still had a residual papular and follicular dermatitis, and one subject had resolving eczematous patches. Toxicological evaluation of BHETA by application of various concentrations of technical grade BHETA to the forearms of six volunteers established that the compound provoked both follicular and nonfollicular irritant dermatitis, and was also a potential skin sensitizer. The authors conclude that antistatic agents are strong skin irritants; they should be considered as possible causal agents of dermatitis among employees who handle plastic boxes impregnated with them, particularly when an oily film is noticed.
JOCMA7; NIOSH-Author; Amines; Contact-allergies; Epidemiology; Occupational-exposure; Contact-dermatitis; Electronics-industry; Materials-handling; Plastics
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Journal Article
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Journal of Occupational Medicine
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division