NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Behavioural evaluation of workers exposed to mixtures of organic solvents.

Maizlish NA; Langolf GD; Whitehead LW; Fine LJ; Albers JW; Goldberg J; Smith P
Br J Ind Med 1985 Sep; 42(9):579-590
The objective of this study was to replicate previous cross sectional epidemiological studies on behavioral performance in workers exposed to organic solvents, and to examine dose response effects with quantitative exposure data. Subjects were chosen from large midwestern United States companies engaged in manufacturing automotive parts, or furniture and printing companies belonging to a regional trade association. The final study included 240 workers: 124 were classified as exposed, and 116 as nonexposed. Solvent exposure for each subject was defined as an exposed or nonexposed category based on an industrial walk through survey and the concentration of solvents determined by an analysis of full shift personal air samples by gas chromatography. The average full shift solvent concentration was 302 parts per million (ppm) for printing facility workers and 6 to 13ppm for workers at other facilities. The major components were isopropanol (67630) and hexane (110543). The behavioral tests included the Fitts law psychomotor task, the Stroop color word test, the Sternberg short term memory scanning test, the short term memory span test, and the continuous recognition memory test. No significant correlation was identified between solvent concentration and impairment on any of the ten behavioral variables evaluated after controlling for confounding variables. Exposed and nonexposed comparisons showed a significantly poorer digit span among those exposed, which had not been generally reported in the earlier Scandinavian studies. Medical examination showed no abnormalities of clinical significance. The inability to replicate findings of the earlier Scandinavian studies may have been due to a shorter duration of worker exposure, the type of solvents found in the mixtures, use of different behavioral tests, or to selection factors.
NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Contract; Contract-210-80-0003; Organic-solvents; Task-performance; Printing-industry; Alcohols; Occupational-exposure; Epidemiology; Neurotoxic-effects; Behavioral-testing; Humans; Furniture-manufacture; Furniture-industry; Automotive-industry
67-63-0; 110-54-3
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Neurotoxic Disorders; Neurotoxic-effects
Source Name
British Journal of Industrial Medicine
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division