To evaluate the effects of the occupational exposure to rayon manufacturing chemicals (RMC, containing predominantly carbon disulfide (CS2) and minor sulfuric acid) in a rayon factory on the basal transepidermal water loss (TEWL), barrier integrity (BI), and sequential increasing TEWL profiles. Six Thais and five Chinese workers in the spinning department of a rayon manufacturing plant and five healthy unexposed controls were recruited as the test subjects. An area of 4.5 × 5.5 cm on the mid-side of the volar forearm on the right hand was stripped by means of moderate pressure with commercially available adhesive tape by the same technician throughout the experiment. The skin was progressively stripped until glistening. TEWL was measured at every three and five tape strips on the right hand. The corresponding site on the left hand was measured parallel as the self-control. We found significant differences in basal TEWL and in BI between Chinese workers and Chinese controls, and between Thai workers and Chinese workers, respectively. Two-stage patterns of progressive TEWL profiles were found in such a chronic and repeated occupational exposure to RMC containing CS2. The occupational exposure to RMC could result in the perturbation of the skin barrier function. Basal TEWL might be more sensitive to chronic skin irritant exposure. The TEWL profile achieved to the glistening stage might be necessary to avoid erroneous pattern estimation. Due to the lack of Thais control in this study, the racial difference in response to the RMC warrants further study.
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