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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Dec 10;9(12):4606-14. doi: 10.3390/ijerph9124606.

The relationship between skin symptoms and allergic reactions to Asian dust.

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Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University, Japan.


Asian dust events result from displacement of atmospheric pollutants from the Chinese and Mongolian deserts, causing associated health issues throughout Northeast Asia. We investigated the relationship between skin symptoms in Asian dust events and contact allergy to Asian dust and associated metals. Increases in atmospheric levels of heavy metals such as Ni, Al, and Fe occurred during the severe Asian dust event on March 21, 2010. We conducted a case-control study (n = 62) with patch testing to compare skin symptoms on an Asian dust day with metal allergic reactions. Skin symptoms were observed in 18/62 subjects. Nine subjects with skin symptoms (group A) and 11 without (group B) were patch tested for six metals and Asian dust particles. Metal and dust samples were applied to the subjects' backs for 2 days and the reactions were scored according to the International Contact Dermatitis Research Group guidelines. Differences in the positive rates between the groups were analyzed. Skin reactions to ferric chloride (p = 0.015), aluminum chloride (p = 0.047), nickel sulfate (p = 0.008), and Asian dust particles (p = 0.047) were more common in group A than in group B. Skin symptoms during Asian dust events may be allergic reactions to Asian dust particle-bound metals.

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