+61 3 9623 9402 rnixon@occderm.asn.au

Professor Sigfrid Fregert 1919-2016
ICDRG 1967-1985

Professor Sigrid Fregert worked all his life as a dermatologist at the University Hospital in Lund Sweden. When working at the Department of Dermatology in the late 1950s, physicians at the Department of Occupational Medicine asked him to accompany them to worksites, as many workers then suffered from occupational skin diseases. This led to the foundation of the Department of Occupational Dermatology (DOD) in 1960, with Professor Fregert as the Head of Department until his retirement in December 1985.

An important achievement was his insight that competence in environmental chemistry was needed to trace skin-hazardous substances, both occupationally and non-occupationally. An occupational hygienist/chemist was employed and initially placed at the laboratory of occupational medicine until the DOD acquired its own laboratory. Prof Fregert was one of the founders of a Scandinavian Committee for Standardization of Routine Patch Testing in 1962 and the International Contact Dermatitis Research Group (ICDRG) in 1966. The ICDRG continued to standardize not only the patch test procedure, but also contact dermatitis terminology. In 1974, he published the first edition of the Manual of Contact Dermatitis, and the second one was published in 1981 on behalf of the ICDRG and the North American Contact Dermatitis Group.

Professor Fregert and chemist Birgitta Gruvberger made pioneering research efforts in the 1970s within the area of cement dermatitis. By adding a small amount of iron sulfate to the cement, the sensitizing capacity of hexavalent chromium was substantially reduced. Technical investigations were done in collaboration with the Swedish construction company Cementa. The work was so successful that the Nordic countries and then the European Union in 2005 legislated on non-sensitizing cement.

Professor Fregert did much more in occupational dermatology research. For example, Fregert and Thorgeirsson could demonstrate that the epoxy resin and its monomer were the major sensitizers.

Magnus Bruze