Occupational Allergy

*Stacey E. Anderson,1 Carrie Long,1 G. Scott Dotson2

1. Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA
2. Education and Information Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
*Correspondence to sanderson4@cdc.gov

Disclosure: The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Received: 03.05.16 Accepted: 11.08.16
Citation: EMJ. 2017;2[2]:65-71.


An estimated 11 million workers in the USA are potentially exposed to agents that can become a cause of allergic diseases such as occupational asthma and allergic contact dermatitis, which can adversely affect health and well-being. Hundreds of chemicals (e.g. metals, epoxy and acrylic resins, rubber additives, and chemical intermediates) and proteins (e.g. natural rubber latex, plant proteins, mould, animal dander) present in virtually every industry have been identified as causes of allergic disease. In general, allergens can be classified as low molecular weight (chemical) allergens and high molecular weight (protein) allergens. These agents are capable of inducing immunological responses that are both immunoglobulin E and non-immunoglobulin E-mediated. Interestingly, the same chemical can induce diverse immune responses in different individuals. As new hazards continue to emerge, it is critical to understand the immunological mechanisms of occupational allergic disease. Specific understanding of these mechanisms has direct implications in hazard identification, hazard communication, and risk assessment. Such efforts will ultimately assist in the development of risk management strategies capable of controlling workplace exposures to allergens to prevent the induction of sensitisation in naïve individuals and inhibit elicitation of allergic responses. The purpose of this short review is to give a brief synopsis of the incidence, agents, mechanisms, and research needs related to occupational allergy.

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