Response of furniture factory workers to work-related airborne allergens.

Ann Agric Environ Med 2002;9(1):91–97
The aim of this work was to determine the reactivity of furniture factory workers to microbial allergens associated with wood dust. Allergological examinations by skin and precipitin tests were performed in 48 workers employed in a factory producing furniture from fibreboards and chipboards, and in 32 healthy urban dwellers not exposed to organic dusts (referents). The skin test was performed by the intradermal method with the saline extracts of the cultures of 3 microbial species (Rahnella sp., Arthrobacter globiformis, Aspergillus fumigatus) associated with wood dust. Skin reactions were recorded after 20 minutes, 8 hours and 24 hours and graded 1-4, depending on the diameter of the reaction. The agar-gel test for the presence of precipitins in serum was performed with the extracts of 15 microbial isolates. The furniture factory workers showed a high skin response to the extracts of environmental microbes. The frequency of early grade 2 reactions (diameter 10 mm) to the extract of Rahnella sp. was 64.6% among furniture workers, being significantly higher (p < 0.001) compared to reference group (18.7%). High frequencies of grade 2 reactions in furniture workers were also found with the extracts of A. globiformis and A. fumigatus (52.1% and 62.5%, respectively). The frequencies of grade 2 delayed (after 8 h) and late (after 24 h) reactions to Rahnella sp. in furniture workers were non-specifically high (97.9%/93.7%) while the response rates to A. globiformis and A. fumigatus were much lower (10.4%/25.0%, and 4.2%/37.5%, respectively). In agar-gel test for detection of precipitins, in most cases very low percentages of positive reactions (0-2.1%) were noted in furniture factory workers. The only exception was a high percentage of positive reactions (27.1%) to the antigen of Pseudomonas maltophilia, which was significantly greater in furniture workers compared to the reference group (p < 0.01). The obtained results suggest that early allergic reactions to microorganisms associated with wood dust are common among workers of furniture industry, which may increase a potential risk of work-related disease in this occupational group.