Chemical allergies

Dan D. Levy ddlevy at helix.nih.gov
Thu May 23 15:21:38 EST 1996

Many years ago I had a colleague who became allergic to the primary amines
with which she was working in the lab.  As I recall, she had been
diagnosed with a mild case of mononuleosis which, her physician later told
her, is often associated with sensitizing people to new allergens.

On 23 May 1996, Shane Lord wrote:

>    Hi, I am a third year chemistry student, and as part of a small
>   assignment I am to survey people who work in chemistry labs to find out
>   if they have ever experienced allergies to chemicals, or know of anyone
>   who has. Any help would be much appreciated. The questions are as
>   follows :
> 	1. What was the allergent, and briefly, what were its symptoms ?

She was working with several aliphatic primary amines.  When she breathed
the fumes she became quite nauseous.  Later she realized that she had also
developed a food allergy to fish, which she associated with the same
sensitization.  Food allergies are a little harder to associate with the
cause since her (typical) symptoms (she became violently ill, throwing up
and other systemic reactions which I don't recall anymore) came several
hours after consumption of the meal.

> 	2. Was the cause of the allergic reaction easy to determine?

  With the lab chemicals the reaction was immediate and thus the
association easy to make.

> 	3. Did the allergy inhibit the ability to work in the lab, and
> 	   if so, to what extent?

   see # 4.

> 	4. What actions were taken to overcome these problems and how
>          effective were these actions?

   I think she was able to finnish the project by being more careful about
wearing gloves and working in a fume hood.  I also seem to remember her
switcing to another project fairly quickly!

> 	5. Did the allergic reaction occur as a result of an already 
>          existing conditioni? (e.g. Asthma)

    Her physician attributed it to the mononucleosis.  I don't know how
likely that is.
> Again thanks,
> Shane Lord
> shane at tartarus.uwa.edu.au
> lord-s at kultarr.cs.uwa.edu.au

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