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Hazards of Reactive Dyes

dyeing cloth in1482  (Wikipedia)
Reactive Dyes

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)

Art Hazard News, Volume 11, No. 2, 1988

This article was originally printed for Art Hazard News, © copyright Center for Safety in the Arts 1988. It appears on nontoxicprint courtesy of the Health in the Arts Program, University of Illinois at Chicago, who have curated a collection of these articles from their archive which are still relevant to artists today.