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Sensitization to Formaldehyde in Northeastern Italy, 1996 to 2012

Prodi, Andrea MD*; Rui, Francesca MD, PhD*; Belloni Fortina, Anna MD; Corradin, Maria Teresa MD; Larese Filon, Francesca MD*

doi: 10.1097/DER.0000000000000158

Background 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.

Objective The aim of this study was to investigate the frequency of formaldehyde sensitization, time trend, and correlation to occupations.

Methods This study is a cross-sectional study on a population of 23,774 patients tested from 1996 to 2012 in Northeastern Italy.

Results 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).

Conclusions 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.

From the *Clinical Unit of Occupational Medicine, University of Trieste; †Dermatology Unit, Department of Paediatrics, University of Padua; and ‡Dermatology Unit, S. Maria degli Angeli Hospital, Pordenone, Italy.

Address reprint requests to Andrea Prodi, MD, Unità Clinica Operativa di Medicina del Lavoro, Dipartimento di Scienze Medico Chirurgiche e della Salute, Università degli Studi di Trieste Centro Tumori, Via della Pietà, 19 Trieste I-34129, Italy. E-mail:

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to declare.

© 2016 American Contact Dermatitis Society
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