Long-term perchloroethylene exposure: a meta-analysis of neurobehavioral deficits in occupationally and residentially exposed groups

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2009;72(13):824-31. doi: 10.1080/15287390902800413.


The literature concerning the neurobehavioral and neurophysiological effects of long-term exposure to perchloroethylene (PERC) in humans was meta-analyzed to provide a quantitative review and synthesis in the form of dose-effect curves. The useable database from this literature comprised studies reporting effects of long-term exposure to PERC, effects that included slowed reaction times, cognitive deficits, impaired color vision, and reduced visual contrast sensitivity. For the meta-analyses, dose was defined as the product of the concentration inhaled PERC and the duration of exposure, expressed in unites of ppm-h/1000 (for numerical convenience). Dose-related results were highly variable across studies. Reports involving low exposure concentrations characteristic of nonoccupational exposures consistently produced effects of a magnitude that were comparable to those reported for higher concentration occupational studies. If this finding is reliable and general, studies of occupationally exposed persons may underestimate the magnitude of effects of PERC and other chemicals in the total population. Given the limited scope of the available data for PERC and its methodological and reporting problems (small sample sizes, testers were not blind to the subjects' exposure conditions, and the timing and location of testing were insufficiently documented), it seems important to test this conclusion with a well-documented study of two groups (occupational and nonoccupational exposure) in which subjects are evaluated in randomized order, using the same procedures and with the testers kept blind to the status of the subjects.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Tetrachloroethylene / adverse effects*
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Acuity / drug effects


  • Tetrachloroethylene