Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 2007-0261-3122, 2011 Mar; :1-46
In May 2007, NIOSH received a management request for an HHE to look at dermatitis in production employees. In August 2007, we toured the plant, interviewed employees, and examined their skin for irritation. We took air samples for volatile organic compounds, reviewed MSDSs and medical records, and tested workplace substances to see if they could cause skin allergy. Our evaluation found that airborne solvent exposures were low; however, production employees had the potential for skin contact with chemicals. The predominant location of dermatitis in employees was the hands and fingers, suggesting that the most likely cause of dermatitis was direct skin exposure to chemicals. Some ingredients in workplace inks, hand wipes, and hand cleaners were known sensitizers or were found to be sensitizers by our testing. In March 2008, we asked employees to fill out health questionnaires and observed workplace improvements made by the company. The analysis of questionnaire data revealed that reporting work-related dermatitis was related to being exposed to ink production work and having a predisposition to allergic disease (defined as asthma, atopic eczema, or allergic rhinitis/hay fever). Our initial findings suggested that the cause of the employees' dermatitis was skin allergies, so we returned to do skin patch testing in September 2009. We tested 13 employees with a history of dermatitis to newly identified workplace allergens and to common allergens. No skin patch test participants reacted to any of the workplace substances; seven reacted to common allergens. A dermatologist under contract to NIOSH diagnosed eight participants with irritant contact dermatitis. Employees were exposed to several irritants at work including solvents, dusts, and irritating soaps and/or hand wipes. In addition, employees with dermatitis reported worsening of symptoms when exposed to cold, dry weather. Because the company made improvements in ventilation, work practices, and housekeeping; introduced appropriately protective gloves; introduced less irritating hand products; and began healthy skin program training, the dermatitis of most skin patch test study participants improved or resolved. Although no participants reacted to workplace materials, we recommended taking precautions in handling sensitizing substances, because prolonged and/or large exposures to those substances may cause a skin sensitizing reaction in allergy-prone employees.
Contact-dermatitis; Dermatitis; Skin-exposure; Employee-exposure; Air-sampling; Volatiles; Organic-compounds; Occupational-exposure; Skin-irritants; Solvents; Printing-inks; Sensitization; Chemical-hypersensitivity; Cleaning-compounds; Questionnaires; Health-surveys; Worker-health; Allergic-dermatitis; Allergies; Skin-sensitivity; Skin-tests; Allergens; Soap-products; Dusts; Ventilation; Work-practices; Housekeeping-products; Region-2; Industrial-hazards; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-measures; Gloves;
Author Keywords: skin exposure; inks; PPE; gloves; chemicals; solvents; contact dermatitis; skin patch testing