What is colophony?
Colophony, also known as rosin, is the yellow, sticky sap tapped from pine &
spruce tree trunks. The living trees are 'tapped' and the rosin gum is distilled,
producing turpentine oil and colophony. It is the complex natural residue left after
distilling off the volatile oils.
Three types of colophony (gum, wood, and tall oil) are distinguished depending on
the method of extraction.
Colophony is one of the causes of Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD).
Nickel is probably the commonest allergen causing ACD in most countries, a prevalence
of about 10%. About 2% of patients tested by the North America Contact Dermatitis
Group had positive Patch Test reactions to Colophony 20% in
petrolatum. Because colophony is found in such a wide range of "every-day products",
it is very difficult to avoid, and is one of the most troublesome causes of ACD.
Colophony is also a well-recognised cause of occupational asthma. In New Zealand
there have been several reports of Occupational Asthma due to colophony-containing
solders in electronic workers. There have been 4 cases confirmed by the Notifiable
Occupational Disease System (NODS) since they were established in 1992. (Published
by OSH in the Report on NODS – to the end of 1998)
A study done with New Zealand Pine Processing Sawmill workers & published in
the American Journal of Industrial Medicine in Feb 2001, concluded that " Working
in pine sawmilling is associated with an increased prevalence of asthma and cough
symptoms and eye and nose irritation."
Synonyms (other names) for colophony
Treatment of colophony sensitivity
Since avoidance is the only option, the allergic individual must be made aware of
the long list of products that might contain colophony & avoid skin contact