Author: TS Singh

Source: Occupational Health Southern Africa, Sept/Oct 2010, 16 (5), 30-33


Introduction: Exposure to airborne biological agents (plant and animal) is frequently associated with occupational contact dermatitis.  Airborne bacteria and fungi have also been associated with work-related skin disease in the absence of pulmonary disease.  The role of airborne biological agents in occupational contact dermatitis was conducted.

Methodology: A literature review of scientific papers (1966-2009) related to biological agents implicated in occupational airborne contact dermatitis was conducted. The search was done using Google, as well as major dermatitis and occupational health journals and information from credible occupational health and safety institutes.

Results: An overview of airborne biological agents and their role in occupational dermatoses, as well as the diagnosis of such conditions is provided. The coexistence of occupational and non-occupational skin diseases is highlighted.

Conclusion: Occupationally induced skin reactions by airborne biological agents (microbial, plant, animal) are more common than in the non-occupational context.  The role of airborne biological agents should be considered in the diagnostic workup of workers with skin reactions in air-exposed areas.