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Allergens include a variety of chemicals that can produce allergic or sensitization reactions. In sensitization reactions, the individual responds symptomatically at increasingly lower concentrations. Examples include diazomethane, chromium, nickel, dichromates, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, isocyanates, certain phenols, antimicrobial agents, EDTA, and mercurials.
Allergic reactions range from contact dermatitis and asthma to anaphylactic shock. Symptoms of contact dermatitis are red rash, swelling, itching, and possibly blisters. These symptoms may appear seven to ten days following exposure, but more often occur after years of continuous exposure to low levels. Then once the individual is sensitized, the symptoms may occur within 24-48 hours of the exposure. Formaldehyde, EDTA, and quaternary ammonium salts (e.g., tetramethyl ammonium chloride, TMAC) induce a contact dermatitis-type reaction. Always wear gloves of appropriate material when handling these chemicals and avoid inhalation. N-Dex gloves provide better protection than latex gloves.