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Neurobehavioral effects of solvents in construction painters.

Baker EL; Letz RE; Eisen EA; Pothier LJ; Plantamura DL; Larson M; Wolford R
J Occup Med 1988 Feb; 30(2):116-123
A study of neurobehavioral effects induced by solvents in construction painters was conducted. The study was part of an educational program to train workers in identifying and controlling workplace hazards associated with solvents in paint products. A total of 186 male painters, mean age 40 years, who were members of the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades constituted the study group. The subjects were administered tests that evaluated verbal ability, psychomotor performance, symbol/digit substitution, hand eye coordination, pattern memory, and mood. Information on clinical symptoms, lifestyle factors, occupational history, and demographic characteristics were obtained from medical evaluations. Total cumulative (lifetime) exposures expressed as the product of the years worked as a painter times an intensity factor ranged from 158.3 for brush painters to 382.9 for spray painters. The prevalence of central nervous (CNS) symptoms such as forgetfulness, lassitude, disorientation, and dysphoria tended to increase with increasing cumulative exposure. Peripheral nervous symptoms, such as weakness or numbness, and dermatological complaints showed little or no relationship to exposure. Unadjusted scores for performance on selected memory and perceptual motor tests showed a slight deterioration for individuals in the highest (top 10 percent) exposure group. A slight slowing of response latencies on the pattern comparison task was also observed in this group. When controlled for age, education, drinking (alcohol), and vocabulary score, lifetime exposure intensity was significantly correlated with performance on the symbol/digit test and mood. The authors conclude that the results support the notion that exposure to solvents in the painting industry is associated with adverse effects on the CNS.
JOCMA7; NIOSH-Author; Organic-solvents; Occupational-exposure; Mental-processes; Neurotoxic-effects; Painting; Construction-workers
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Journal of Occupational Medicine
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division