Allergic reactions can mimic both acute and chronic poisoning and it is often difficult to distinguish between the two. It is not unusual to have a low-level chronic health problem either masked or exaggerated by an allergy. It is important to distinguish between the two because the prevention and medical treatment is different for each. Substances that cause strong allergic reactions often have to be eliminated, rather than reduced, because even minimal exposure can cause a significant reaction.
Despite the symptomatic similarities, many people are able to distinguish between toxic reactions and allergic reactions. Allergic reactions are often immediate and usually out of proportion to the type of exposure. A person using small amounts of turpentine, for example, may react with asthmatic like symptoms, and when a substitute solvent, such as petroleum distillate, is used the symptoms are gone. Less severe reactions require professional assistance to determine the cause.
Excerpts from ART HARDWARE: The Definitive Guide to Artists’ Materials, by Steven Saitzyk © 1987 All rights reserved. Reproduction forbidden without written permission.