Baltimore Journalist Surprised to Find He is Allergic to Newspaper Ink

As for Dresser, he said he is beginning to show improvement wearing gloves and light clothing to work, as well as taking a prescription for antihistamines. Now it's his reporter friends who are the itches.

“I guess I would describe them as having amused sympathy,” he said. “They certainly don’t take any joy in my discomfort, but how can you not see the irony of my situation – apparently the world does, too.”

Here's the internal email he sent to all Sun staffers:

From: Dresser, Mike

Sent: Friday, May 16, 2014 3:41 PM

To: TBS-News BaltSun

Subject: Weekly World News item

Veteran reporter finds he’s allergic to newspapers

I thought this deserved a headline.

The next time you see me in the newsroom, you may see me wearing the type of rubber gloves used by a doctor or a crime scene technician. Don’t worry, I won’t be administering any uncomfortable examinations or looking for blood spatter. It’s just that I found out this week after nearly 38 years at The Sun that I am allergic to newspaper ink.

Seriously. Any sympathy is appreciated, but feel free to laugh. The irony is not lost on me.

The gloves were recommended as a way to continue to work around newspapers without causing the kind of symptoms I’ve been dealing with for years without any idea of why they were occurring. A patch test this week found a number of interesting allergies, including a strong reaction to pine resin, a component of newspaper ink. That allergy has been specifically linked to the eye trouble I’ve been having, as well as other skin conditions.

You might notice another change that will no doubt add to a certain reputation for eccentricity. Because of an allergy to blue textile dye No. 106, which is in wide use, I have been advised to avoid clothing with dark colors – not just blue but also blacks, greens and purples. (There goes Ravens Friday.) So if a new colleague asks why the old guy always wears white or cream even in winter, that’s the reason. This transition may take some time because of the expense involved. I’m looking at Mark Twain as a possible role model.

I make this public for three reasons:

1. Because you all deserve a good laugh.

2. So that I can limit the number of times I have to explain my apparent weirdness.

3. In case one of you or some newspaper-handling person you know has been dealing for a long time with severe puffing and irritation around the eyes and hasn’t figured out why. You or your friend should see an allergist or dermatologist and get patch-tested for pine resin allergy. Mr. Google tells me newspaper allergies more common that you might think – and not just among politicians and police spokespeople. And, yes, allergies can develop late in life.

I am relieved that this news comes at a time when I can consume the fine work my colleagues do in an electronic format. And over-zealous editors take note: I won’t leave fingerprints.

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