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Exposure, skin protection and occupational skin diseases in the glass-fibre-reinforced plastics industry.

Contact Dermatitis

adverse effects, Dermatitis, Occupational, prevention & control, Dust, Glass, Gloves, Protective, Hand Dermatoses, Humans, Adult, Intradermal Tests, Male, Microscopy, Electron, Scanning, Middle Aged, Occupational Exposure, Plastics, Polyesters, Polystyrenes

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      Abstract

      A total of 100 workers, 86 from the glass-fibre-reinforced plastics (GRP) industry, 11 from polystyrene production and 3 from polyester resin coating manufacture, were examined for occupational skin hazards and for evaluation of skin protection. The workers had been exposed to many chemicals. Those working in the GRP industry had also been exposed to glass fibre and to dust produced by finishing work. 94% used protective gloves. 22 workers, all employed in the GRP industry, had contracted occupational skin disorders. 6 had allergic and 12 irritant contact dermatitis. 4 workers had an accidental injury caused by a peroxide catalyst, fire, hot air and constant mechanical friction. Allergic dermatoses were due to natural rubber (latex) (4 cases) in protective gloves, phenol-formaldehyde resin (1 case) and cobalt naphthenate (1 case). Irritant hand dermatoses (5 cases) were caused by the combined hazardous effect of unsaturated polyester or vinyl ester resins, organic solvents, glass fibre and dust from finishing work on the skin. Other cases of irritant dermatoses (7 cases) were due to the dust, promoted by mechanical friction of clothes. Skin disorders in the GRP industry were common (26%) but the symptoms were mild and only 3 patients had been on sick leave because of occupational skin disease.

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