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Shield Report 2006; cleaning agents in top 3 causes, with isocyanates and metal-working fluid

Shield Report 2006; cleaning agents in top 3 causes, with isocyanates and metal-working fluid

Shield is the Midland Thoracic Society’s Surveillance Scheme for Occupational Asthma for the West Midlands. The scheme, which was set up in January 1989, was established to study the general and specific incidence of occupational asthma within the West Midlands region and Metropolitan County. This year we have discovered an outbreak of occupational asthma as well as other work related symptoms in a school for children with special needs. We have seen 8 workers this year which followed on from 6 seen in 2005. The school itself employs around 110 workers. The cause of this outbreak is as yet to be confirmed, but possibilities include flooring adhesive and cleaning products. The main agent reported to the scheme in 2004, 2005 and 2006 was metal working fluid, joined in 2006 by isocyanates, which had been in second place for 2004 and 2005. This is mainly found in industries that grind and drill metal components. The West Midlands is an area of major metal working and metal-working fluids have been a regular cause of occupational asthma since Shield began. In the past most cases have been due to inhalation of used oils, where microbial contamination is the most likely cause. In one plant, cobalt (from stellite welding) dissolved in the coolant is the most common cause. Occasional cases are due to constituents of the unused oil, particularly colophony or tall oil products. We have also had a previous outbreak of alveolitis and asthma due to a contaminated water-based humidifier in a printing works, controlled by replacement with a steam humidifier (Thorax 1985;40: 248-254).


http://www.occupationalasthma.com/shieldreport2006.aspx

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