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Sensitization to green coffee bean (GCB) and castor bean (CB) allergens among dock workers.

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Istituto di Medicina del Lavoro-Università di Trieste, Ospedale Maggiore, Italy.


Dock workers (n = 218) occupationally exposed to green coffee beans (GCB) were studied, using a specific questionnaire for allergic symptoms and skin tests for common and occupational allergens. Thirty-one workers (14.3%) complained of allergic symptoms of the eye, nose and bronchial system at the workplace. The prick tests, using both commercial allergens and specific extracts prepared from the most common types of coffee and their corresponding sacks, confirmed a sensitization in 21 workers (9.6%). A positive skin reaction to castor beans (CB) was found in nearly all these cases; in ten workers there was also a positive reaction to GCB allergens and in 14 cases prick tests were positive to extracts of sacks. There was a good concordance between prick tests and specific IgE for CB (95.0%) and also, but to a lesser extent, for GCB. The authors concluded that there is a significant risk of sensitization to CB and GCB allergens in dock workers occupied in handling green coffee bean, despite the fact that the exposure is not continuous. CB emerged as a common contaminant of GCB from various countries. For effective prevention, a modification of the methods of transport is required to avoid CB contamination to other products. Eliminating environmental dust during shipping operations is the most important preventive measure and it can be achieved by the use of containers, as some exporting countries are already doing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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