Formaldehyde-releasers: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy. Contact allergy to formaldehyde and inventory of formaldehyde-releasers

Authors

  • Anton C De Groot,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands
      Anton de Groot, Department of Dermatology
      University Medical Center Groningen
      University of Groningen
      PO Box 30.001
      9700 RB Groningen
      The Netherlands
      Tel: +31(0)521320332
      e-mail:antondegroot@planet.nl
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  • Mari-Ann Flyvholm,

    1. National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Lerso Parkallé 105, DK-2100 Copenhagen
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  • Gerda Lensen,

    1. Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • Torkil Menné,

    1. Gentofte Hospital, Dermato-Allergology Department K, Niels Andersens Vej 65, 2900 Hellerup, Denmark
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  • Pieter-Jan Coenraads

    1. Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands
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Anton de Groot, Department of Dermatology
University Medical Center Groningen
University of Groningen
PO Box 30.001
9700 RB Groningen
The Netherlands
Tel: +31(0)521320332
e-mail:antondegroot@planet.nl

Abstract

This is one of series of review articles on formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasers (others: formaldehyde in cosmetics, in clothes and in metalworking fluids and miscellaneous). Thirty-five chemicals were identified as being formaldehyde-releasers. Although a further seven are listed in the literature as formaldehyde-releasers, data are inadequate to consider them as such beyond doubt. Several (nomenclature) mistakes and outdated information are discussed. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde allergy are reviewed: applications, exposure scenarios, legislation, patch testing problems, frequency of sensitization, relevance of positive patch test reactions, clinical pattern of allergic contact dermatitis from formaldehyde, prognosis, threshold for elicitation of allergic contact dermatitis, analytical tests to determine formaldehyde in products and frequency of exposure to formaldehyde and releasers. The frequency of contact allergy to formaldehyde is consistently higher in the USA (8–9%) than in Europe (2–3%). Patch testing with formaldehyde is problematic; the currently used 1% solution may result in both false-positive and false-negative (up to 40%) reactions. Determining the relevance of patch test reactions is often challenging. What concentration of formaldehyde is safe for sensitive patients remains unknown. Levels of 200–300 p.p.m. free formaldehyde in cosmetic products have been shown to induce dermatitis from short-term use on normal skin.

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