Formaldehyde is a widely used organic compound, used in several applications (hard thermoset resins, adhesives, disinfectants, tissue fixatives, etc), in its free form or released by formaldehyde releaser products. Its use is under control due to its toxic, carcinogenic, and allergenic properties.
The aim of this study was to investigate the frequency of formaldehyde sensitization, time trend, and correlation to occupations.
This study is a cross-sectional study on a population of 23,774 patients tested from 1996 to 2012 in Northeastern Italy.
Frequency of sensitization was 3.3%, without any significant time trend. Hands (39.8% overall) and face (25.6% females, 15.5% males) were mainly involved. We found a trend toward decrease by age in females (3.11% in first quintile [14–26 years], 2.29% in fifth quintile [59–97 years], P < 0.01). On a logistic regression analysis (control group: white-collar workers), we found associations in health care (odds ratio [OR], 1.37; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04–1.81), wood (OR, 2.14; 95% CI, 1.30–3.51), and textile (OR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.14–2.79) sectors and professional drivers (OR, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.05–3.60). We found a high rate of cosensitization to formaldehyde in patients with positive patch test reactions to quaternium-15 (OR, 18.7; 95% CI, 12.6–27.7).
Sensitization to formaldehyde is relevant in our population, especially in the health care sector, wood and textile industries, and professional drivers. No significant time trend was found.