Research Article
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Published Online: 1 February 2016

Sensitization to Formaldehyde in Northeastern Italy, 1996 to 2012

Publication: Dermatitis
Volume 27, Issue Number 1



Formaldehyde is a widely used organic compound, used in several applications (hard thermoset resins, adhesives, disinfectants, tissue fixatives, etc), in its free form or released by formaldehyde releaser products. Its use is under control due to its toxic, carcinogenic, and allergenic properties.


The aim of this study was to investigate the frequency of formaldehyde sensitization, time trend, and correlation to occupations.


This study is a cross-sectional study on a population of 23,774 patients tested from 1996 to 2012 in Northeastern Italy.


Frequency of sensitization was 3.3%, without any significant time trend. Hands (39.8% overall) and face (25.6% females, 15.5% males) were mainly involved. We found a trend toward decrease by age in females (3.11% in first quintile [14–26 years], 2.29% in fifth quintile [59–97 years], P < 0.01). On a logistic regression analysis (control group: white-collar workers), we found associations in health care (odds ratio [OR], 1.37; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04–1.81), wood (OR, 2.14; 95% CI, 1.30–3.51), and textile (OR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.14–2.79) sectors and professional drivers (OR, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.05–3.60). We found a high rate of cosensitization to formaldehyde in patients with positive patch test reactions to quaternium-15 (OR, 18.7; 95% CI, 12.6–27.7).


Sensitization to formaldehyde is relevant in our population, especially in the health care sector, wood and textile industries, and professional drivers. No significant time trend was found.

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Published In

cover image Dermatitis
Volume 27Issue Number 1January/February 2016
Pages: 21 - 25
PubMed: 26756512


Published in print: January/February 2016
Published online: 1 February 2016


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    Andrea Prodi [email protected]
    From the *Clinical Unit of Occupational Medicine, University of Trieste;
    Francesca Rui
    From the *Clinical Unit of Occupational Medicine, University of Trieste;
    Anna Belloni Fortina
    Dermatology Unit, Department of Paediatrics, University of Padua;
    Maria Teresa Corradin
    Dermatology Unit, S. Maria degli Angeli Hospital, Pordenone, Italy.
    Francesca Larese Filon
    From the *Clinical Unit of Occupational Medicine, University of Trieste;


    Address reprint requests to Andrea Prodi, MD, Unità Clinica Operativa di Medicina del Lavoro, Dipartimento di Scienze Medico Chirurgiche e della Salute, Università degli Studi di Trieste Centro Tumori, Via della Pietà, 19 Trieste I-34129, Italy. [email protected]
    The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to declare.

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