Several laborers in a refinery unit undergoing a work over noted skin eruptions. Signs and symptoms included erythema, pruritus, scaling, and perifollicular inflammation on skin contacted by fire-retardant clothing (FRC).
The purposes of this report were to show a correlation between this rash outbreak and the use of FRC, to report the investigative results as to what aspect of the FRC most likely caused the dermatitis, and to present how this outbreak was ended.
Employees received questionnaires, were examined, and received patch testing, and pH testing of FRC was performed to evaluate the causative factors.
More than 100 workers reported a rash, and approximately a third of these individuals exhibited a unique rash. There was a trend toward Hispanic and white workers being more affected than black workers. The onset of the rash peaked from June to August. This FRC-related rash resolved with the use of manufacturer-recommended laundering procedures.
The FRC-associated eruption was most likely a form of irritant contact dermatitis due to inadequate laundering procedures. The most effective preventative measure other than proper laundering was the use of underclothing to prevent contact of FRC with sweat-moistened skin.