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Work with acrylate chemicals can cause asthma

Published online: October 31, 2019

Certain chemicals used in the workplace can cause asthma in people who work there. This kind of asthma, which is readily preventable, is called ‘occupational asthma.’ One class of chemicals capable of causing occupational asthma is the ‘acrylates’ of which there are several types including ‘cyanoacrylates’ and ‘methacrylates’ which are widely used in glues, resins, varnishes, and similar materials. Despite a number of published reports, acrylates are not generally classified as chemicals that can cause occupational asthma, a deficit that hampers efforts to prevent the disease.  

Doctors from 11 European countries have together collected 55 cases of occupational asthma proven to have been caused by acrylates; their details are reported in a recent issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. Hille Suojalehto and her colleagues compared these patients with 418 patients who developed occupational asthma from other chemicals.

Most patients with occupational asthma from acrylates worked in industrial manufacturing, dentistry, or beauty care; in which they are used in acrylic and gel nail materials and eyelash glues. The characteristics of their asthma were in some ways different from those of asthma caused by other chemicals at work, suggesting that acrylates may act in a particular manner. The findings reinforce the need for a re-evaluation of the health hazards of acrylate chemicals.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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