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Epidemiologic Study of Asthma and Superglue


  • Challenge: Cardno ChemRisk® was retained by an adhesives manufacturer to assess the association between asthma and occupational exposure to methyl cyanoacrylate (MCA) and ethyl cyanoacrylate (ECA), components in superglue.  The manufacturer was responding to employee concerns that workplace exposures were causing asthma.
  • Approach: Cardno ChemRisk scientists performed an epidemiological study, reviewing employee medical records and occupational histories covering a period of about 17 years for 450 employees at an adhesive production facility.  Additionally, air sampling data was reviewed to determine if potentially hazardous levels of MCA and ECA were present at the site.  Cardno ChemRisk conducted a cohort analysis using a Cox proportional hazards model and a case-control analysis that compared “suspected cases” of asthma to those whose pulmonary function tests (PFTs) remained within normal limits throughout their employment.
  • Findings: There was no evidence of an association between short-term or peak exposures to MCA or ECA and an increased risk of pulmonary obstruction.  However, results suggested that persons occupationally exposed to cyanoacrylates were more likely to have reversible eye or upper airway irritation than persons who were unexposed.
  • Value: Through epidemiology and site air sampling data, Cardno ChemRisk was able to reassure the manufacturer that asthma was not being caused by exposures to MCA and ECA in its facility.  This epidemiologic study was the first to investigate the adverse respiratory effects of occupational exposure to either MCA or ECA in which the findings were peer-reviewed and published.
  • Selected Publications: Goodman, M., D. Paustenbach, K. Sipe, C.D. Malloy, P. Chapman, M.L. Burke, R. Figueroa, K. Zhao, and K.A. Exuzides. 2000. Epidemiologic study of pulmonary obstruction in workers occupationally exposed to ethyl and methyl cyanoacrylate. J Tox Env Health A. 59:135-163.  


Tags: Case Studies by Industry: Chemical
Sort Case Study by Practice Area: Epidemiology
Chemical or Material: ethyl cyanoacrylate (ECA) ,Methyl Cyanoacrylate (MCA)

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