Asthma caused by formaldehyde


Occupations
  • Carpenter
  • Chemical industry
  • Cosmetics industry
  • Foundry worker
  • Hairdresser
  • Laboratory staff
  • Medical personnel
  • Mortician Thanatopracteur
  • Nurse
  • Paper industry
  • Plastics industry
  • Rubber industry
  • Tanner
Agents
Formaldehyde, Formol, Paraformaldehyde.
 
Incidence
Incidence: 30% of exposed subjects may be affected.
 
The product causes irritation and liberation of histamine.
 
An IgE-dependent mechanism and the production of antibodies have been suggested by some researchers, however, both of these claims have been disputed by others.
 
Conditions
The airborne concentration of the substance is important. The permissible level (2 ppm for 15 minutes) will cause problems for subjects with a bronchial hyperactivity. Both resin powders and gaseous forms of the product can induce symptoms. Recent studies (2001–2002) have demonstrated that an exposure level of 60 µg per m3 or above, increases the risk of the development of asthma in children.
 
Symptoms
Asthma attacks in the evening following exposure at work. The attacks may intensify for several nights after exposure (work) has been stopped. Cough, expectoration, rhinitis and conjunctivitis may be associated. Contact eczema, urticaria and Quincke's oedema may occur.
Diagnostic methods
Skin prick test: not commercially available.
 
Immunological dosage: RAST/CAP RAST Formalin.
 
Bronchial provocation test (in hospital) by inhalation.
 
The monitoring of peak flow rates at home and work can be useful.

References

  1. Yonsei Med. J. 2001,42:440 - Kim CW et al.
  2. Eur. Respir. J. 2002,20:403 -Rumchev KB et al.
  3. Eur. Respir. J. 1995,8:861
  4. Fiche All. Prof n°2 INRS.
  5. Gigtr. Prof. Zabol. 1976,20:17
  6. J. Allergy. Clin. Immunol. 1985,75:91
  7. J. Allergy. Clin. Immunol. 1990,86:177
  8. J. Allergy. Clin. Immunol. 1987,79:705
  9. Lancet 1987,2:164
  10. Chest 1983,833:584
  11. Br. J. Ind. Med. 1977,34:11
  12. Poumon-Coeur 1966,22:497

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.