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Occupational contact allergy in the building trade in Germany: influence of preventive measures and changing exposure

Abstract

Purpose

Since 1993, assiduous efforts have been made in Germany to lower the incidence of allergic cement dermatitis by reducing the content of hexavalent chromium (Cr VI). Usage of epoxy resin systems has considerably increased in the building trade in the same period. We analysed data of the Information Network of Departments of Dermatology (IVDK) to evaluate the influence of these changing occupational exposures on frequencies of sensitization.

Methods

IVDK data of 1,153 men working in the building trade (bricklayers, tile setters etc.) presenting with occupational skin disease in the years 1994–2008 were analysed, taking into consideration not only the year of patch testing, but also beginning and duration of work in the building trade.

Results

While contact sensitization to chromate decreased from 43.1 to 29.0%, sensitization to epoxy resin increased from 8.4 to 12.4%. Logistic regression analysis revealed that, compared to those who had already worked before 1994, patients having started to work in building trade after 1999 had a significantly decreased risk of chromate sensitization (odds ratio 0.42) and a significantly increased risk of sensitization to epoxy resin (odds ratio 2.79). Additionally, risk of thiuram sensitization increased with the duration of employment.

Conclusion

Our data confirm that reducing Cr VI content of cement is useful in preventing allergic cement eczema, as previously found in Scandinavia. In contrast, the increasing prevalence of contact sensitization to epoxy resin components in the building trade is alarming. Preventive measures, which have already been implemented, have to be enforced.

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Acknowledgments

The following departments of dermatology contributed to this study (in alphabetical order). Responsible physicians are mentioned in brackets. Aachen (H. Dickel), Augsburg (A. Ludwig), Basel (A. Bircher), Berlin Benjamin Franklin (B. Tebbe, R. Treudler), Berlin BWK (A. Köhler), Berlin Charité (B. Laubstein, T. Zuberbier, M. Worm), Berlin UKRV (J. Grabbe), Bern (D. Simon), Bielefeld (I. Effendy), Bochum (H. Dickel), Buxtehude (P. Große–Hüttmann, P. Hausenblas), Dortmund (B. Pilz, P.J. Frosch, C. Pirker, R. Herbst, K. Kügler), Dresden (G. Richter, R. Aschoff, P. Spornraft-Ragaller, A. Bauer), Duisburg (J. Schaller), Erlangen (K.-P. Peters, T.L. Diepgen, M. Fartasch, V. Mahler), Essen (H.-M. Ockenfels, U. Hillen), Freudenberg (Ch. Szliska), Gera (J. Meyer), Graz (B. Kränke, W. Aberer), Greifswald (M. Jünger), Göttingen (Th. Fuchs, J. Geier), Halle (G. Gaber, D. Lübbe), Hamburg (M. Kiehn, R. Weßbecher, E. Coors), Hamburg BUK (K. Breuer, U. Seemann, C. Schröder-Kraft), Hannover (T. Schaefer, Th. Werfel), Heidelberg (A. Schulze-Dirks, M. Hartmann, U. Jappe), Heidelberg AKS (H. Dickel, T.L. Diepgen, E. Weisshaar), Homburg/Saar (F.A. Bahmer, P. Koch, C. Pföhler), Jena (M. Gebhardt, A. Bauer, W. Wigger-Alberti, M. Kaatz, S. Schliemann), Kiel (J. Brasch), Krefeld (A. Wallerand, M. Lilie, S. Wassilew), Leipzig (R. Treudler), Lübeck (J. Kreusch, J. Grabbe), Mainz (D. Becker), Mannheim (Ch. Bayerl), Marburg (I. Effendy, H. Löffler, M. Hertl, W. Pfützner), Minden (R. Stadler), München LMU (B. Przybilla, F. Enders, F. Rueff, T. Oppel, P. Thomas, T. Schuh, R. Eben), München Schwabing (M. Agathos, K. Ramrath, M. Georgi), München TU (J. Rakoski, U. Darsow), Münster (B. Hellweg, R. Brehler), Nürnberg (I. Müller, D. Debus, A. Bachtler), Osnabrück (W. Uter, S.M. John, H.J. Schwanitz (+), N. Schürer, H. Dickel, Ch. Skudlik), Rostock (H. Heise (+), J. Trcka), Tübingen (G. Lischka, M. Röcken, T. Biedermann, J. Fischer), Ulm (H. Gall (+), G. Staib, P. Gottlöber), Wuppertal (O. Mainusch, J. Raguz), Würzburg (A. Trautmann), Zwickau (B. Knopf, D. Teubner), Zürich (B. Ballmer-Weber).

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Johannes Geier.

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Geier, J., Krautheim, A., Uter, W. et al. Occupational contact allergy in the building trade in Germany: influence of preventive measures and changing exposure. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 84, 403–411 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-010-0581-8

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Keywords

  • Bricklayers
  • Cement dermatitis
  • Chromate
  • Construction workers
  • Contact allergy
  • Epoxy resin
  • Occupational dermatitis
  • Prevention
  • Thiurams