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Prof Dr Swen Malte John

Head of Department Dermatology and Environmental Medicine,
University of Osnabrueck, Germany

Prof Dr Swen Malte John will be a Keynote presenter at the 7th Occupational and Environmental Exposure of Skin to Chemicals (OEESC) Conference.  He will be speaking on the ‘Exposure Related to Skin Diseases’.

Research focus in occupational dermatology and allergology, including the interdisciplinary approaches to the prevention of occupational skin diseases with an emphasis on workers’ education strategies (“Osnabrueck model”).

Coordinator of the Pan-European awareness raising EADV “Healthy Skin@Work”/europrevention campaign, which is an official partner of EU OSHA “Healthy Workplaces”

Chair of a recent EU Horizon 2020 COST Action  “StanDerm” (TD 1206) which aims to develop and implement evidence based European standards on prevention of occupational skin diseases, incl. skin cancer by solar UV. StanDerm so far comprises 150 experts in the field from 31 European countries.

Exposure related to skin diseases

In Europe, occupational irritant and allergic contact dermatitis (OCD) constitute up to 35% of all work-related illnesses causing extensive suffering for affected workers. The annual costs by OCD are estimated to vastly exceed 5 billion € in the EU due to medical treatment, sick leave and loss of productivity.

A number of recent studies have demonstrated that early and systematic intervention with a focus on avoiding harmful exposures to the skin can save OCD-patients’ health and jobs, and thus avoid individual suffering as well as diminish costs for society. However, as yet, social insurance systems in many countries do neither enable targeted intervention nor specific preventive measures at the work places. Conversely, gross underreporting masks the true epidemiological dimension of OCD in many countries. Thus, EADV started the “healthy skin @work” campaign to raise awareness, improve options for medical care for affected individuals, and coordinate scientific efforts. “Healthy skin @work” also takes account of the vastly neglected risk of non-melanoma skin cancer by occupational solar UV exposure. This initiative is currently accompanied by a path-breaking EU research project: “Development and Implementation of European Standards on Prevention of Occupational Skin Diseases (COST Action TD 1206:  StanDerm)”, so far comprising 31 European countries. StanDerm is a joint coordinated approach to systematically implement and scientifically evaluate compatibility, transferability, and sustainability of OSD-prevention & management concepts, directed to systematic risk assessment for safer work places, identification of pivotal exposures & systematic hazard reduction as well as screening of high-risk populations. This also includes reviewing the scientific evidence for achieving health literacy by workers’ education. These efforts on the scientific level are accompanied by actively involving regulators and policy makers in the process in order to ensure reduction of key exposures on a legal basis, including major culprit allergens like e.g. Methylisothiazolinone, Glycerylmonothioglycolate, epoxy resins as well as solar UV.

The above given examples comprise, like so many, promiscuous exposures which can occur occupationally as well as in the private life; this makes hazard reduction in many cases complex but also, if achieved, even more worthwhile and effective.

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