Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1986;12(5):494-498    pdf


Changes in water vapor loss from the skin of metal industry workers monitored during exposure to oils.

by Coenraads PJ, Lee J, Pinnagoda J

Vapor loss (VL) from nonsweating skin (SVL), a surrogate measure for transepidermal water passage, was ascertained electronically from 54 newly recruited metal workers. A weekly measurement was taken for 12 weeks from each worker in the three groups studied: 17 unexposed workers, 13 workers exposed to water-soluble oils and 24 workers exposed to straight mineral oil. During the 12-week period four workers in the group exposed to mineral oil developed contact dermatitis, with a markedly increased SVL. Among the 50 workers whose skin remained normal, the mean initial SVL was 6.8 g X m-2 X h-1 for the back of the hand, 4.4 for the extensor, and 4.7 for the volar forearm. There was a slight but nonsignificant increase in all three SVL levels in the group exposed to water-soluble oils as compared to the unexposed group. In the group exposed to mineral oils the SVL of the extensor and volar forearm rose to a significantly higher level as compared to those of the unexposed group. This difference persisted after statistical adjustment for age, sex, ethnic group, and initial SVL level. These findings indicate that SVL measurement has potential as a monitoring parameter for workers at risk of occupational contact dermatitis.