Causes of Scleroderma: Solvents

Benzene, Trichloroethylene, Paint Thinners and Removers

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Case Reports
Scleroderma and Camp LeJeune
Patient Stories

Overview of Solvents and Scleroderma

colorful abstract paintingOccupational or environmental exposure to solvents and cleaning products, including trichloroethylene, benzene, paint thinners and paint removers are known causes of scleroderma.

Scleroderma is a rare disease that predominantly affects women. When it occurs in men, it is usually more aggressive, and most commonly caused by environmental or occupational exposures. (Also see What is Scleroderma?, Gender and Scleroderma, and Causes of Scleroderma)

Differential immunotoxicity induced by two different windows of developmental trichloroethylene exposure. Developmental exposure to environmental toxicants may induce immune system alterations that contribute to adult stage autoimmune disease. PubMed, Autoimmune Dis, 2014, 982073.

Human Health Effects of Trichloroethylene: Key Findings and Scientific Issues. TCE exposure increases the risk of autoimmune disease and a specific type of generalized hypersensitivity syndrome. In addition to the epidemiologic studies of specific diseases (e.g., systemic sclerosis), changes in cytokine levels reflecting an inflammatory immune response have been reported in relation to TCE exposure in occupational and residential settings. Environ Health Perspect, Volume 121, Issue 3, March 2013.

Organic Solvents as Risk Factor for Autoimmune Diseases: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Exposure to organic solvents is a risk factor for developing autoimmune diseases. Individuals with non-modifiable risk factors, such as familial autoimmunity, should avoid any exposure to organic solvents in order to avoid increasing their risk of autoimmune diseases. PLoS One, 2012; 7(12).

Evidence of autoimmune-related effects of trichloroethylene exposure from studies in mice and humans. The consistency among the studies and the concordance between the studies in mice and humans support an etiologic role of TCE in autoimmune disease. Pub Med Environ Health Perspect, [2009] May;117(5):696-702.

A Message to the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation Re:Scleroderma Epidemic at Kahnawake. It is clear that the people of Kahnawake have been exposed to solvents from local industry and from dump sites. It is clear that there is much Scleroderma at Kahnawake. The high rate of Scleroderma must be investigated at Kahnawake and perhaps, Akwesasne. John H.W. Hummell, [2009]. (Also see Causes of Scleroderma: Clusters and Kahnawake Scleroderma Support Group)

Occupational exposure and systemic sclerosis. Literature review and result of a self-reported questionnaire. Occupational exposure (labor and leisure) must be searched for when faced with a scleroderma patient for two reasons: the possible declaration of an occupational disease and a better knowledge on toxics involved in scleroderma. PubMed, Rev Med Interne, [2008] Nov;29(11):891-900. (Also see Causes of Scleroderma: Silica)

Occupational Exposure to Solvents and Gender-Related Risk of Systemic Sclerosis (SSc): a Metaanalysis of Case-Control Studies. Whereas SSc affects women predominantly, among subjects with occupational exposure to solvents, men are at higher risk than women for the disease. J Rheumatol, [2007] January;34:97–103.

Release of the National Academy of Sciences TCE Report. The evidence on cancer and other health risks from TCE exposure has strengthened since 2001, the committee found. Impact Analysis, [2006].

Systemic Sclerosis and Occupational Risk Factors: Role of Solvents and Cleaning Products. Exposure to either cleaning products or solvents emerged as a risk factor for SSc. Exposure factors should be characterized and results of all studies compared to implement appropriate preventive measures in relevant workplaces. J Rheumatol, December [2004];31:2395-401.

Scleroderma and Solvent Exposure among Women. In summary, exposures to paint thinners and removers were associated with scleroderma in women but showed no evidence of increasing risk with increasing duration. Exposures to other specific chlorinated and nonchlorinated hydrocarbon solvents were not clearly associated with scleroderma. PubMed, Am J Epidemiol, [2003] Mar 15;157(6):493-500.

(Case Reports) Epidemiology of organic solvents and connective tissue disease. Case reports suggest that solvents are associated with various connective tissue diseases (systemic sclerosis, scleroderma, undifferentiated connective tissue disease, systemic lupus erythematosis, and rheumatoid arthritis), particularly systemic sclerosis. Arthritis Res.

Silica and Trichloroethylene-Induced Progressive Systemic Sclerosis. Several environmental factors and chemicals have been described as being able to induce systemic scleroderma and scleroderma-like diseases. Dermatology, [1992];184:98-102.

Case Reports

For UVA1 treatment, first contact your scleroderma expert to see if it they will recommend it for you. If they recommend and prescribe it for you, try to find UVA1 facilities near you. Some dermatology offices (usually large offices or with major health centers) have UVA1 equipment (not UVB). It may also be possible to buy UVA1 phototherapy equipment for home use. It is manufactured by Daavlin and distributed worldwide. Home users must be monitored by a physician, who will prescribe the necessary dosage and monitor for possible side-effects, such as skin cancer.

(Case Report) Conjugal progressive systemic sclerosis. We report here a case of systemic sclerosis in a wife and husband who both developed the onset of illness within a 10-year period. Solvent exposure was noted. PubMed, Rev Med Interne, [2006] Jan;27(1):63-65.

(Case Report) A 63-year-old man developed generalized scleroderma four years after being diagnosed with porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT). He had almost daily exposure to organic solvents (benzene, trichlorethylene) for many years. Using a medium dosage of UVA1 phototherapy and intensive physiotherapy, the progression of the skin disease was stopped and the sclerosis improved. PubMed, Hautarzt, [2003] May;54(5):448-52. (Also see Diseases Similar to Scleroderma)

(Case Report) Amyloid deposition associated with generalized morphea-like scleroderma. (The patient) had been occupationally exposed to organic solvents. As far as we know, amyloid deposition associated with generalized morphea-like scleroderma has not been reported until now. PubMed, Eur J Dermatol, [2003] Sep-Oct;13(5):509-11. (Also see Morphea)

Scleroderma and Camp LeJeune Exposures

Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) can onset long after exposure to an environmental exposure. To complicate matters, it typically takes many years, sometimes decades, for scleroderma to be properly diagnosed. Typically there is an increased incidence of various cancers and scleroderma with widespread trichloroethylene exposure.

Camp Lejeune water contamination. The Janey Ensminger Act of 2012 applies to cancer of the esophagus, lung, breast, bladder or kidney; leukemia; multiple myeloma; myleodysplasic syndromes; renal toxicity; hepatic steatosis; female infertility; miscarriage; scleroderma; and/or neurobehavioral effects or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The Department of Veterans Affairs is assigned by the bill to provide the medical care. Wikipedia.

Patient Stories

Brenda M: Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC), Fibromyalgia, Pulmonary Fibrosis, and Sjogren's Syndrome In 1965, when I was twenty-six, I went to work for a firm of electro-platers, which was mainly aircraft work…

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