In response to a report of neurologic conditions in three former employees of Caldwell Systems, Inc. (SIC-4953), Hudson, North Carolina, an investigation was made into possible occupational exposures. The hazardous waste incinerator facility was operated by The Caldwell Group, Lenoir, North Carolina. Similar health problems were reported among employees from two other facilities owned and operated by Caldwell: Caldwell Industrial Services, Inc., Hudson, North Carolina; and Mitchell Systems, Inc., Spruce Pines, North Carolina. Employee symptoms included headache, irritability, memory impairment, hot flashes, nystagmus, ataxia, tremor, and labile blood pressure. Fourteen former employees reported by a local physician to have neurologic problems related to occupational chemical exposures were examined. Their most frequently reported symptoms were nonspecific; the most frequent finding was diminished concentration. All had psychiatric symptoms, but the diagnoses were not sufficiently supported with information which could link them to specific work related exposures. Two subjects had similar movement disorders characterized by myoclonus. Tremor was seen in two subjects. In a study of 54 former workers, the most frequent neurologic finding was a mild postural tremor in eight participants. Worker reports of environmental conditions and symptoms suggested that substantial exposures might have occurred, especially before 1987. The author recommends that all workers at hazardous waste facilities be educated about risks of exposure, trained to minimize exposure and offered the fullest protection against exposure.
Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance Branch, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, Ohio, Report No. HETA-90-240-2259, 47 pages, 20 references