Q. My husband is a concrete contractor. He does basements, walls, slabs, etc. A doctor has told him that he has "concrete palsy." The first time it appeared was after he had cleaned out the inside of a drum on a truck, which involved vibration and a lot of dust. About three days afterward the skin on his forehead, hands, lower legs, and feet was an ashen color and very irritated and it peeled away. That lasted about three weeks. Now when he pours a lot of concrete it shows up again. He did say they use portland cement, but that's about all the information I have. What can you tell me?

A. This sounds like concrete burn. The Center to Protect Workers' Rights has excellent material on prevention and treatment of cement burns. You can call 301-578-8500 or visit their Web site, www.cpwr.com. (Follow the link to eLCOSH, then pick Hazard, Chemical, and Cement.)

The most important thing in the short term is for your husband to never allow any cement or concrete to come into contact with his skin. It sounds like he has become "sensitized," which means he will get a reaction whenever his skin comes into contact with cement. He must wear gloves, long sleeves, wash frequently, etc. This is a workers' compensation issue and medical treatment should be paid for by his employer.