Facility Safety Management

Weekly E-Newsletter

July 10, 2007

Could Bacterial Infections Trigger Metal Allergies?

By  Michael D. Shaw

Allergic reactions to metals have been increasing in the past few years, and they can be a knotty problem for industrial workers. Recent research points to a bacterial connection.

Endo’s team injected mice with a nickel salt solution, with some getting a dose of lipopolysaccharides at the same time. After 10 days, all the mice received a nickel salt injection in the ear, and the resulting dermatitis was documented.

Mice that did not receive the lipopolysaccharide-spiked dose came through virtually unscathed, but the spiked group had a quick and strong reaction to the nickel. Endo also found that the spiked group later reacted to several other metals including cobalt, chromium, palladium, copper, and silver.

Endo noted that, “If people come in contact with a metal during an infection, I speculate that this could lead them to develop metal allergies later in life.”

Could be, but detecting an infection early enough to do something about it might pose a practical problem. Research continues…