A questionnaire survey of over 400 workers handling reactive dyes showed that over 15% had work-related respiratory or nasal symptoms.
Forty-nine employees with symptoms were referred to chest clinics for detailed assessment. It was considered that in 19 employees the symptoms could be attributed to an irritant esponse to a variety of chemicals, including hydrochloric acid apor, sulphur dioxide, and reactive dyes. Symptoms in 24 employees were attributed to an allergic reaction to a specific agent; in most (21) to one or more reactive dyes. Two patterns of allergic lower respiratory symptoms were identified: an immediate response of short duration and a longer lasting response, usually of several hours, sometimes accompanied by nocturnal asthma. A radioallergosorbent test (RAST) screen containing the most commonly used reactive dyes was used to detect specific IgE. Allergic symptoms to reactive dyes were strongly associated with specific IgE (17/21 employees) and atopy (18/21). Irritant symptoms were also associated with atopy (13/19) but only weakly associated with specific IgE (7/19).
The preceding abstract was reprinted with permission from Section 35 (Occupational Health and Industrial Medicine) of Excerpta Medica. Clinical and immunological investigations of respiratory disease in workers using reactive dyes - Docker A., Wattie J.M., Topping M.D. et al. - Employment Medical Advisory Service, Manchester, GBR - BR. J. IND. MED. 1987 44/8 (534-541)