Effect of reduced use of organic solvents on disability pension in painters

Occup Environ Med. 2017 Nov;74(11):827-829. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2017-104421. Epub 2017 Aug 5.


Objective: To investigate whether the decreased use of paints based on organic solvents has caused a decreased risk for neuropsychiatric disorders in painters by studying their incidence in disability pensions.

Methods: The incidence of disability pension in Swedish painters who had participated in health examinations between 1971 and 1993 was studied through linkage with Swedish registers of disability pension over 1971-2010 and compared with the incidence in other construction workers as woodworkers, concrete workers and platers. When phasing out began in the 1970s, about 40% of paints were based on organic solvents and it had decreased to 4% in 1990s. The analysis was adjusted for age, time period, body mass index and smoking.

Results: The painters (n=23 065) had an increased risk of disability pension due to neurological diagnosis (n=285, relative risk (RR) 1.92, 95% CI 1.67 to 2.20) and psychiatric diagnosis (n=632, RR=1.61, 95 % CI 1.42 to 1.82). For neurological disorders there was a time trend with a continuously decreasing risk from 1980 onwards, but there was no such trend for psychiatric disorders.

Conclusions: High exposure to organic solvents increased the risk for disability pension in neurological disorders, and the risk decreased when the use of organic solvents decreased. The painters also had an increased risk of disability pension due to psychiatric disorders, but the causes have to be further investigated.

Keywords: Disability; Painters; Solvents.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Construction Industry* / trends
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / chemically induced
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Nervous System Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupations
  • Organic Chemicals / adverse effects
  • Paint
  • Pensions*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Solvents / adverse effects*
  • Sweden
  • Workers' Compensation


  • Organic Chemicals
  • Solvents