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Health problems from paint

July 15, 1999, 10:00 CEST

Almost half of all painters working in the Norwegian offshore sector experience occupational health problems.

The preliminary results of the Trondheim project, a research project supported by Statoil, show this to be the case. The project's objective is to study how health is affected by the use of paint products containing isocyanates (polyurethane paint) and epoxides (epoxy paint).

Of the 1,500 painters taking part in the survey, 42 per cent of them have reported various degrees of skin disorders and/or respiratory tract problems. The participants account for roughly 50 per cent of all painters in Norway.

Results show that six people have developed skin allergy caused by epoxy while three people have contracted allergic asthma. Of these three cases, two are probably caused by isocyanates and one by epoxides.

Håkon Lasse Leira who heads the Trondheim project comments: "This number is far smaller than expected at the start of the project. It is interesting that only two of the nine cases are due to polyurethane paint. The others were caused by epoxy paint. This shows that problems associated with paint cannot be solved by simply using epoxy paint instead of polyurethane paint."

Dr Leira is a consultant at the Trondheim regional hospital. The project started in 1997 and will continue until the end of this year.

In addition to Statoil, participants are Saga Petroleum, Norsk Hydro and the Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry's working environment fund.