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Acid anhydrides are reactive organic chemicals of low molecular weight which cause occupational asthma. No previous research on the relationship between exposure to these chemicals and respiratory sensitization and development of occupational asthma has been reported. A retrospective cohort study was carried out in four factories (three alkyd resin factories and one cushioned flooring factory) to investigate the nature of exposure-response relationships for sensitization to phthalic anhydride (PA), trimellitic anhydride (TMA) and maleic anhydride (MA). This paper describes the results of full-shift and task-specific exposure measurements. Exposure to PA was low in relation to the Occupational Exposure Standard (OES). The highest full-shift PA exposures occurred among resin operators in the resin factory that used solid PA as compared to other resin factories where liquid PA was used. Arithmetic mean exposure levels to TMA and MA in the resin factories were well below their respective OESs. Short-term high exposures occurred during loading of acid anhydrides into the reactors and sampling and testing of the resin. Relatively high full-shift exposure to TMA occurred in the cushioned flooring factory, although no high peak exposures were detected.


Journal article


Ann Occup Hyg

Publication Date





559 - 571


Anhydrides, Floors and Floorcoverings, Humans, Maleic Anhydrides, Occupational Exposure, Phthalic Anhydrides, Retrospective Studies