Acute solvent effects research at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has been almost exclusively human laboratory experimental research. The Institute's initial solvent research efforts were undertaken through contracts, primarily to the laboratory of Dr. Richard D. Stewart at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The solvents studied included carbon tetrachloride, perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, acetone, toluene, methyl chloride, and methylene chloride. The intent of these contract studies was to document acute effects of solvent exposures that could be experienced in the work-place and to develop biologic tests to monitor the magnitude of repeated daily exposures. The acute effects measured were both physiological and behavioral. The results of these studies appeared in several journal articles, and the information also was used by NIOSH in the development of a data base or foundation for recommending safe work place exposure standards for select solvent. The behavioral performance measures used in these studies were a combination of sensory/motor tasks (e.g. finger dexterity, Flanagan coordination, simple reaction time), memory tests (digit span) and psychomotor tests (choice reaction time). The tests were often the paper-and-pencil psychological tests and generally lacked sensitivity to discern early, subtle changes in attention, arousal, information processing, and memory performance functions. Today, investigators prefer automated tests that are designed to assess these functions in a variety of ways, thus enabling neurobehavioral testing to be more capable of detecting subclinical acute effects.
Arbete och Halsa. Proceedings from a workshop held at the "Institut fur Arbeitsphysiologie and der Universitat Dortmund", March 7-9, 1990