Plastics are usually nontoxic and stable in ambient conditions. Occupational dermatoses occur mostly during the technological processes for producing plastics. Amino-plastics (e.g., urea-formaldehyde resin, melamine-formaldehyde resin) are of low toxicity. Phenol-formaldehyde resins can produce allergic contact dermatitis in 10% of exposed workers. Patch testing to formaldehyde resins gives false negative results in many cases. Para-tertiary-butyl-phenol-formaldehyde resins are used mainly as adhesives. Severe allergic skin reactions with systemic involvement can occur in occupational settings. Melamine-formaldehyde resins can be involved in contact dermatitis, formaldehyde being the primary irritant and sensitizer. Polycarbonates were reported in isolated cases of orthoergic or allergic contact dermatitis. Polyamide resins rarely induce skin allergies or irritation, even in conditions of prolonged contact (e.g., compression stockings for workers in standing position). Half of the workers inadequately protected when exposed to polyester fibers develop allergic contact dermatitis. Styrene acts as primary irritant by destroying the protective lipid film of the skin surface. Polyurethane resins are rarely involved in skin conditions but the resins manufacture can cause allergic and irritative dermatitis. Diagnostic skin tests need careful interpretation as cross-reactivity was described between isocyanates (components of polyurethane resins) and their corresponding amines.
Polyolefins (thermoplastic resins obtained by polyaddition of olefins) can be involved in occupational contact dermatitis mainly when incompletely cured or in hot conditions due to depolimerization. Sicca syndrome and epidermal necrolysis were also described.
Primary prevention to occupational dermatoses induced by plastics involves health and safety instruction of the workers and the use of masks and gloves to avoid contact with the low molecular weight reagents. It is important to constantly improve the technological process by the replacement of harmful adjuvants with less dangerous ones. Secondary prevention is performed by the medical team that treats and makes recommendations to the affected workers.
KeywordsAmino plastics Formaldehyde Polyolefins Contact dermatitis Anaphylaxis Vitiligo
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