Occupational Asthma Reference

Burge PS, Harries MG, O'Brien IM, Pepys J, Bronchial provocation studies in workers exposed to the fumes of electronic soldering fluxes, Clin Allergy, 1980;10:137-149,

Keywords: oa, electronics, asthma , colophony, nsbr, amine, abietic acid, nc, challenge, specificity

Known Authors

Sherwood Burge, Oasys Sherwood Burge

Jack Pepys, Royal Brompton Hospital Jack Pepys

Mark Harries, Brompton Hospital and Northwick Park Mark Harries

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Flux cored solder commonly used in the electronics industry is a metal alloy, based on tin and lead, and a flux consisting of colophony with a small concentration of an activator. Thirty-four electronics workers with occupational asthma and seventeen with respiratory symptoms, probably from other causes, have been investigated by occupational type bronchial provocation testing. All the sensitized workers had a significant fall in FEV1 after exposure to colophony fumes for 15 min or less. The non-sensitized workers had no significant reactivity to this test. There was little correlation between the reaction to colophony fumes and the non specific reactivity to histamine, suggesting that colophony fumes were causing specific sensitization. In sensitized workers Portuguese Y colophony was found to cause slightly larger reactions than similar exposures to American WW colophony. In the six workers tested reactions followed exposure to abietic acid alone, the principal resin acid in colophony. Methyhlation of the carboxyl group of colophony was associated with decreased reactivity.

Workers with non-specific bronchial hyperreactivity also sometimes reacted after exposure to fumes from the flux activators alone, but even this reaction could show specificity for the specific activator to which the worker was exposed. Finally two non-colophony substitute materials were evaluated.

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