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J Immunotoxicol. 2012 Apr-Jun;9(2):193-200. doi: 10.3109/1547691X.2011.654364. Epub 2012 Mar 1.

The identification of a sensitizing component used in the manufacturing of an ink ribbon.

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  • 1Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA.


Skin diseases including dermatitis constitute ≈ 30% of all occupational illnesses, with a high incidence in the printing industry. An outbreak of contact dermatitis among employees at an ink ribbon manufacturing plant was investigated by scientists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Employees in the process areas of the plant were exposed to numerous chemicals and many had experienced skin rashes, especially after the introduction of a new ink ribbon product. To identify the causative agent(s) of the occupational dermatitis, the murine local lymph node assay (LLNA) was used to identify the potential of the chemicals used in the manufacture of the ink ribbon to induce allergic contact dermatitis. Follow-up patch testing with the suspected allergens was conducted on exposed employees. Polyvinyl butyral, a chemical component used in the manufacture of the ink ribbon in question and other products, tested positive in the LLNA, with an EC3 of 3.6%, which identifies it as a potential sensitizer; however, no employees tested positive to this chemical during skin patch testing. This finding has implications beyond those described in this report because of occupational exposure to polyvinyl butyral outside of the printing industry.

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