12 Pages

Contact Dermatitis and Metalworking Fluids

WithC.G. Toby Mathias

Occupational skin diseases account for a significant proportion of all occupational illnesses reported in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, and result in significant lost time and financial resources. Machine tool industries are consistently found among Standard Industrial Classification categories with the highest incidence rates and numbers of cases of occupational skin diseases. Exposure to metalworking fluids (MWFs) is an important cause of occupational contact dermatitis, especially in machine tool industries, where they may be routinely blamed for any dermatitis that arises in association with exposure, whether or not such blame is ultimately justified. Irritant contact dermatitis is an inflammatory reaction provoked by a direct, local toxic effect of MWF constituents or contaminants on epidermal cells; no immunological mechanisms are involved. Personal protective measures have only a limited role in the prevention of contact dermatitis from MWFs.