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Point-of-Sale Printers May Trigger Asthma
Date:5/27/2009

Chemical on receipts, coupons, tickets the likely culprit, report suggests

WEDNESDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) -- A 62-year-old Spanish woman who for 20 years sold lottery tickets in a kiosk in Madrid developed asthma soon after she started using a point-of-sale terminal to print the winning or losing tickets.

The cause, researchers suggest in the May 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, was exposure to chemicals emitted by the new device.

"These machines are used everywhere, for example, to pay with credit cards in a restaurant or in any shopping center, said Dr. Joaquin Sastre, senior author of the study and a professor at Fundacio Jimenez Diaz Allergy Service in Madrid. These terminals are used everywhere in the world."

The machines print on thermal paper coated with a chemical called N-propyl-acrylamide and acrylate tints. "After performing all tests, we demonstrated that our patient was sensitized, meaning she is allergic to a specific substance, in this case, acrylates contained in the thermal paper," Sastre said.

According to the researchers, acrylates have caused occupational asthma affecting printing-facility employees, among others.

Although the context is new, one expert said, the report is really no different from other reports of chemicals that are known to precipitate asthma.

"This wasn't that surprising to me because chemical irritants are a trigger for asthma," said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Cases of asthma in printing-facility workers have been documented, Horovitz said, and that "is basically what she was doing."

Also, many people sneeze just when opening the morning newspaper, he said. And certain hobbies, such as developing pictures in a home darkroom or working with ceramics and glazes, can also trigger asthma.

"We know that all these things evaporate and giv
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