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A behavioral investigation of occupational exposures to solvents: perchloroethylene among dry cleaners, and styrene among reinforced fiberglass laminators.

Echeverria D; Heyer N; Checkoway H; Brodkin CA; Bittner A Jr.; Toutonghi G; Ronhovde N
Battelle Human Affairs Research Center, Seattle, Washington 1994 Nov; :1-367
The potential impact of perchloroethylene (127184) (PCE) and styrene (100425) on behavior was evaluated in exposed workers. Studies were initially conducted to specifically assess methodological issues and focused on the Stroop, Color Hue, and Switching Attention tests to evaluate the effect of age on color discrimination and to measure cognitive flexibility and attention. The Switching Attention and Color Hue tests were retained due to the sensitivity of the tests to age. Evaluations were conducted on a PCE cohort, a subpopulation of exposed dry cleaners and unexposed laundry cleaners, and a styrene exposed group of reinforced fiberglass laminators. The relationships between subclinical hepatotoxicity with exposure as shown by serum parameters and behavioral results of work exposure to both solvents were evaluated. Cohort comparisons were conducted and extensive test batteries to assess central nervous system (CNS) effects were performed. Breath samples were collected to estimate the solvent body burden in the workers, and industrial hygiene measurements were conducted at the workplaces. Residual and selective deficits in visuospatial function were found resulting from chronic exposure to PCE, while pronounced subchronic effects were produced by styrene. Serum parameters of hepatic function were significantly altered and diffuse parenchymal changes in echogenicity determined by ultrasonography were significantly increased among dry cleaners exposed to PCE. The hypothesis that the frontal/limbic systems were affected by solvent exposure was only partially substantiated by the PCE cohort results, but more strongly supported by the evaluation of the styrene cohort. The authors conclude that a no exposure threshold for adverse effects related to subchronic exposure to styrene is shown by the analysis of summary scores for all objective tests. The current occupational limit of 50 parts per million may not protect workers from CNS symptoms resulting from subchronic exposure.
NIOSH-Grant; Neurotoxic-effects; Organic-solvents; Behavioral-tests; Occupational-exposure; Central-nervous-system; Visual-perception; Chlorinated-hydrocarbons; Dry-cleaning-solvents; Age-factors; Liver-disorders
Health Population Rch Ctr Battelle Memoral Institute 4000 NE 41St Street Seattle, WA 98105
127-18-4; 100-42-5
Publication Date
Document Type
Final Grant Report
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Neurotoxic Disorders; Neurotoxic-effects
Source Name
Battelle Human Affairs Research Center, Seattle, Washington
Performing Organization
Battelle Seattle Research Center, Seattle, Washington
Page last reviewed: February 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division