The neurotoxic and neurological disorders resulting from workplace exposures are reviewed. The need for assessment, detection, and evaluation of adverse health effects in the work environment (particularly due to the presence of neurotoxins) is stressed. The limited epidemiological information available on human morbidity and mortality due to neurological psychiatric dysfunction, or diseases of the nervous system is noted. Techniques available for neurotoxicological study are presented. Studies of neural electrical activity, and of end organ responses to electrical events propagated along the nerve and across synaptic, ganglionic, and junctional connections are used for both central and peripheral nervous system evaluation. The usefulness of the electrophysiological methods is emphasized; a great deal of data can be produced with quantifiable output that represents the dynamic state of the nervous system. Behavioral neurotoxicology measures performance, cognition, personality, and mental states. Biochemical aspects of neurological function are discussed. Selection criteria for neurotoxicity tests and interpretation of results are assessed. The author recommends collection and evaluation of mortality and morbidity data for the major neuropsychiatric diseases, studies within the workplace, and explorations of exposures to known neurotoxins.
Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluation and Field Studies, NIOSH, P.O. 82-1746, 27 pages