Asthma caused by aliphatic amines and polycyclic compounds

  • Adhesives industry
  • Cosmetics industry
  • Electronics
  • Furrier
  • Metallurgist
  • Organic chemistry industry
  • Petrochemical industry
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Photographic processing
  • Plastics industry
  • Rubber industry
  • Tanner
Amines, Aziridine, Diamines, Diethanolamine, Ethanol amines, Ethylamine, Ethylene diamine, Methylamine, Tetramines, Triamines.
Incidence: one in three exposed subjects develop symptoms.
Underlying non-specific bronchial hyperreactivity is a predisposing factor. Amines can liberate histamines directly and via cholinergic routes. Aldehydes can cause sensitisation (IgE-dependent mechanism) and may also give rise to RADS (Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome or irritant induced asthma- Brooks syndrome).
Preventative measures are particularly important since the number of subjects affected is directly related to work place conditions. These agents are used as cold hardening agents in the epoxide resin industry. At high concentrations, direct contact with ethanolamine induces irritative lesions. Heating of diethanolamine to between 40°C and 60°C results in a vapour which can induce sensitisation in subjects present in the work place and provoke asthmatic attacks.
Rhinitis and early asthma following exposure, quite frequently associated with eczema. Respiratory symptoms often persist after exposure has ceased.
Diagnostic methods
Bronchial provocation tests by inhalation (in hospital).
Skin prick tests with dimethylethanolamine at 1/1000, 1/100, 1/10 (m/v) or undiluted and with ethylenediamine.
No immunological assay.
Clinical history.


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