Allergic Exposures

Allergic exposures not affecting the skin impact primarily on the respiratory system, including the nasal passages, bronchial tubes, and lungs. Allergens may include organic dusts in the air; dust, hair, and dander from animals; veterinary pharmaceuticals; and farm chemicals. Allergic respiratory disease is discussed in Chapter 19 and allergic skin disease in Chapter 18.

Radiographers process x-ray films using developer and fixer solutions that contain chemicals known to cause or exacerbate asthma. In a Canadian study, radiographers' personal exposures to glutaraldehyde (a constituent of the developer chemistry), acetic acid (a constituent of the fixer chemistry), and sulfur dioxide (a by-product of sulfites, present in both developer and fixer solutions) were measured. Average full-shift exposures to glutaralde-hyde, acetic acid, and sulfur dioxide were 0.0009 mg/m3, 0.09 mg/m3, and 0.08 mg/m3, respectively, all more than one order of magnitude lower than current occupational exposure limits. Local exhaust ventilation of the processing machines and use of silver recovery units lowered exposures, whereas the number of films processed per machine and the time spent near the machines increased exposures. Developments in digital imaging technology provide options that do not involve wet-processing of photographic film and therefore could eliminate the use of developer and fixer chemicals altogether (16).

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