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Identifying a novel cause of occupational allergy 

Identifying a novel cause of occupational allergy
Identifying a novel cause of occupational allergy

Paul Cullinan

and Anthony Newman Taylor

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date: 26 February 2021

An investigation was made of chest illness among certain workers in a factory using a preparation containing proteolytic enzyme derived from Bacillus subtilis in the manufacture of detergent products. There had been asthmatic manifestations in some individuals and in others there were symptoms suggestive of a more peripheral pulmonary reaction. Although primary irritant effects may have occurred, the severe and sometimes prolonged breathless attacks in most of those investigated were thought to have been due to allergic mechanisms. Supporting evidence of allergy to the enzyme was obtained from immediate and late reactions to inhalation and skin-prick tests. Serum-precipitins were present in some of the affected individuals and also in unexposed controls. The findings indicate that, in addition to causing acute illness, inhalation of this material may lead to irreversible impairment of lung function, and that insidious lung damage could occur without episodes of overt illness. Rigorous preventive measures are therefore recommended.

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