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Medichem Newsletter November 20006

other leading Russian hygienic institutions.

The papers can be found at the following Spanish website: http://www.uclm.es/inabis2000/symposia/07.htm

This innovative form of symposia is an interesting opportunity in particular for those with limited travel budgets. Through the internet, they can communicate with colleagues in other countries and exchange experience and opinions.

Dr. Nikolay V. Matveev, Nizhny Novgorod (Russian Federation)


Offer of Scientific Co-Operation with Romanian University

The workers in most plants of Transsylvania are exposed to a large number of chemicals. As an example, tens of thousands of workers in the districts of Cluj, Bistrita-Nasaud, Alba, Maramures, Salaj and Satu-Mare are exposed to toxic metals (lead, arsenic, chromium, manganese, nickel etc.). Many organic solvents need to be mentioned as well which have a significant impact of the health of the employees, on their work performance but also on the health of their descendants.

In order to perform appropriate medical surveillance of these workers, technical equipment is needed which is either totally missing (atomic absorption spectrometer, gas chromato-graphs) or the capacity of which is by far exceeded (our X-ray equipment for example).

I would like to enquire whether our conditions (high environmental exposures, oftentimes above acceptable levels) might be of interest to an academic or other scientific

institution for conducting a research programme.

Interested colleagues are asked to contact:

Prof. Dr. Aristotel Cocârla

Juliu Hatieganu University for

Medicine and Pharmacology

Department of Occupational Medicine

str. Emil Isac 13

Cluj-Napoca (Romania)

Prof. Dr. Artistotel Cocârla, Cluj-Napoca (Romania)


The Skin as a Route for Respiratory Sensitisation?

This question was hotly debated at a recent HSE (UK Health and Safety Executive) workshop attended by specialists from a range of disciplines.

In the context of the question discussed, it is important to distinguish between the immune response (sensitisation) and the disease (asthma). For reasons not fully understood, sensitisation does not invariably lead to clinical disease.

Generally in humans, an agent that causes allergic contact dermatitis does not cause asthma in the same individual, and some agents only ever cause one or the other. The type of immunological reaction is different in asthma compared to allergic contact dermatitis.

It has been shown in experiments that if a respiratory sensitiser (an "asthmagen") is absorbed through the skin, it can cause an "asthmatic type" of allergic reaction locally (a wheal or urtica). But to what extent would sensitisation in the skin be transmitted to the lungs?

Could this occur in humans, and if so would a worker who

had become allergic in this way suffer an asthmatic attack when breathing in the chemical, or even when getting the chemical on the skin?

There was some debate as to whether it mattered in practice, since respiratory and skin exposure could occur together. But it was agreed that if the skin were a route for respiratory allergens, this could have a major impact on risk assessment and risk management of these substances.

A final vote on the hypothesis revealed that the majority of participants believed that the skin can act as a route for sensitisation to respiratory allergens.

HSE are now considering what research is most appropriate in order for HSE to develop a more informed position on this issue.

(from: Toxic Substances Bulletin, Issue 43, Sept.2000, published by the UK HSE)

Dr. Andreas Flückiger, Basel (Switzerland)


Proceedings of 1999 Medichem Conference in Vienna Published

In July of this year, the proceedings of the 1999 Medichem Conference in Vienna were sent out to all members. Once again, the proceedings were printed as a supplement to the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health (IAOEH), a very reputable, referenced and peer-reviewed international journal. This publication in record time was possible thanks to the excellent work, as always, of Springer Publishers in Heidelberg, Germany, and of course especially thanks to the

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