Evaluation of neuropsychological symptoms and exposure to benzene, toluene and xylene among two different furniture worker groups in Izmir

Toxicol Ind Health. 2011 Oct;27(9):802-9. doi: 10.1177/0748233711399309. Epub 2011 Mar 18.


This study was conducted to determine whether there was any exposure to toluene, xylene and benzene and to assess the health impact of these solvents on workers in furniture enterprises in Karabaglar, Izmir. This cross-sectional study covered furniture enterprises in Karabaglar, Izmir. This study was comprised of an exposed group consisting of workers engaged in painting and varnishing and therefore exposed either directly or indirectly toluene, xylene and benzene in the workplace and the non-exposed group engaged in other aspects of production. While a total of 261 individuals completed questionnaires, 210 workers agreed to provide blood samples. Blood solvents levels were determined using gas chromatograph at Ege University, Intoxication Research and Application Centre. The modified EUROQUEST questionnaire was used to assess neuropsychological symptoms and neurological and general examination were performed. Occupational and exposure history, demographic and work-related information was collected. In this study of workers, blood toluene and benzene levels were found to be significantly higher among those engaged in painting and varnishing compared to those who perform other tasks. The average blood toluene and benzene concentrations among exposed workers were 6.95 times and 1.64 times respectively higher than those in the nonexposed groups. Smokers and participants who worked in excess of 8 hours/day had higher blood toluene and benzene levels. The most frequently work-related health complaints were back pain, allergies and asthma. No differences were found in the average scores in the neuropsychological symptoms questionnaire between exposed and non-exposed groups. Neurological examination of two individuals with these complaints revealed a loss of reflexes. The workers were unaware that they were being exposed to solvents at work. Tobacco smoke is a major source of internal exposure to benzene. Improving working conditions in furniture work places is a priority.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / blood
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / toxicity*
  • Benzene / administration & dosage
  • Benzene / analysis
  • Benzene / toxicity*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Interior Design and Furnishings
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / blood
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / epidemiology*
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / etiology
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Occupational Diseases / blood
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Paint / toxicity
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Toluene / administration & dosage
  • Toluene / blood
  • Toluene / toxicity*
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Xylenes / administration & dosage
  • Xylenes / blood
  • Xylenes / toxicity*
  • Young Adult


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Xylenes
  • Toluene
  • Benzene