Neurologic abnormalities in workers of a 1-bromopropane factory

Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Sep;112(13):1319-25. doi: 10.1289/ehp.6995.


We reported recently that 1-bromopropane (1-BP; n-propylbromide, CAS Registry no. 106-94-5), an alternative to ozone-depleting solvents, is neurotoxic and exhibits reproductive toxicity in rats. The four most recent case reports suggested possible neurotoxicity of 1-BP in workers. The aim of the present study was to establish the neurologic effects of 1-BP in workers and examine the relationship with exposure levels. We surveyed 27 female workers in a 1-BP production factory and compared 23 of them with 23 age-matched workers in a beer factory as controls. The workers were interviewed and examined by neurologic, electrophysiologic, hematologic, biochemical, neurobehavioral, and postural sway tests. 1-BP exposure levels were estimated with passive samplers. Tests with a tuning fork showed diminished vibration sensation of the foot in 15 workers exposed to 1-BP but in none of the controls. 1-BP factory workers showed significantly longer distal latency in the tibial nerve than did the controls but no significant changes in motor nerve conduction velocity. Workers also displayed lower values in sensory nerve conduction velocity in the sural nerve, backward recalled digits, Benton visual memory test scores, pursuit aiming test scores, and five items of the Profile of Mood States (POMS) test (tension, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and confusion) compared with controls matched for age and education. Workers hired after May 1999, who were exposed to 1-BP only (workers hired before 1999 could have also been exposed to 2-BP), showed similar changes in vibration sense, distal latency, Benton test scores, and depression and fatigue in the POMS test. Time-weighted average exposure levels in the workers were 0.34-49.19 ppm. Exposure to 1-BP could adversely affect peripheral nerves or/and the central nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chemical Industry
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated / poisoning*
  • Memory Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Mood Disorders / etiology
  • Neural Conduction / drug effects
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales


  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated
  • 1-bromopropane