Back issues No.3 - 1997 / Original Study  

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Occupational Skin Diseases of Electronics Workers in Taiwan the Clinical manifestation and Causative Factors
Meng-Ying Hsieh, Yue-Liang Gue, Shu-Chu Shiao, Hamm-Ming Sheu
Dermatol Sinica 15: 147-156, 1997

The major processes of the electronics industry include the fabrication and assembly of semiconductors, printed circuit boards, and final products. Electronics factory workers are exposed to many irritants and allergens such as soldering fluxes, solvents, metals, and fiberglass, resulting in an increased risk of work-related skin disorders. We randomly surveyed 3070 workers from 5 large electronics factories in southern Taiwan by questionnaire to assess the prevalence of occupational dermatoses. Of these, 807(26.3%) workers had skin problems. 479(15.6%) of whom believed the disorder to be work-related. We interviewed and carried out physical examination and patch tests on the 230 subjects who had a history of skin redness or itching. Of the 183 subjects who completed the investigation, 71 were diagnosed to have occupational skin disease. Among them, 6 had allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) and 65 had irritant contact dermatitis (ICD). Of workers with ACD, 4 who were wore wrist straps to dissipate static electricity had nickel allergy. Of those with ICD, 14 had fiberglass dermatitis, confirmed by positive skin stripping for glass fibers matching with scraping samples form the edge of printed circuit boards or dust from the work areas; other factors included solvents in 16 subjects, acids in 6, chemicals used in plating in 5, thermal burns in 3, and physical factors such as friction and cutting in 21. The clinical manifestations of work-related skin disease are discussed. The prevalence of occupational skin disease in electronics workers in Taiwan is relatively high. Further preventive measures during daily operations in electronics factories are thus warranted.

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