Isocyanates are the most significant cause of occupational asthma in our country. To evaluate the prevalence of work-related respiratory symptoms and immunologic sensitization to it, we performed a questionnaire survey, allergy skin test, radioallergosorbent test (RAST) to toluene diisocyanate (TDI)-human serum albumin (HSA) conjugate and methacholine bronchial challenge test on 23 isocyanate-exposed employees and 9 unexposed controls working in a zipper factory. Six employees (26.1%) complained of work-related respiratory symptoms and three symptomatic workers showed significant bronchoconstrictions on TDI-bronchoprovocation test. Three (13%) asymptomatic workers had high specific IgE antibodies to TDI-HSA and none of the TDI-sensitive asthmatic workers had specific IgE antibody. One of the TDI-sensitive asthmatic workers showed a negative result on the initial methacholine bronchial challenge test, but bronchial hyperresponsiveness developed after the TDI challenge. It was suggested that TDI-sensitive asthma was noted in three (13%) of 23 exposed workers and that asymptomatic workers could have high specific IgE antibody. Measurement of the changes in bronchial hyperresponsiveness after the TDI challenge could be helpful to diagnose TDI-sensitive asthma
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