Occupational Asthma Reference

Baldwin PEJ, Cain JR, Fletcher R, Jones K, Warren N, Dehydroabietic acid as a biomarker for exposure to colophony, Occup Med, 2007;57:362-366,

Keywords: Biological monitoring; colophony; air measurement; rosin; solder fume; dehydroabietic acid

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Background Colophony (rosin) is a natural product derived from the resin of coniferous trees with many industrial applications including soldering fluxes. Exposure to colophony fume through soldering is one of the leading causes of occupational asthma in the UK.

Aims To assess occupational exposure to colophony from solder fume at selected workplaces in the UK and to investigate the use of dehydroabietic acid (DHA) as a biomarker of exposure.

Methods Six companies in the UK electronics industry were visited and occupational hygiene assessments of extent and control of exposure to rosin-based solder flux fume were undertaken. Urine samples were analysed for one of the main constituents of rosin, DHA.

Results There was a positive linear relationship between airborne exposure to solder fume and urinary DHA level. The levels of urinary DHA measured in UK workers were significantly lower than those previously measured in African workers because of the use of appropriate exposure control measures, for example, local exhaust ventilation with fixed ducting and flexible hose, tip extraction, etc. It is suggested that good occupational hygiene practice would result in urinary DHA levels of <3 µmol/mol creatinine in a post-shift urine sample.

Conclusions Urinary DHA is a valid biomarker of exposure to colophony in solder fume. Further work on the excretion kinetics of urinary DHA, the possibility of skin absorption and further occupational hygiene surveys would be beneficial.

Keywords Biological monitoring; colophony; exposure; rosin; solder fume; urine

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A useful biomarker for colophony exposure

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