Organic solvents and presenile dementia (the painters' syndrome). A critical review of the Danish literature

Sci Total Environ. 1986 Jan;48(1-2):45-67. doi: 10.1016/0048-9697(86)90153-1.


Since 1971 a series of Danish medical articles have been published which concludes that the occupational inhalation of organic solvents can induce a chronic cerebral disease manifesting itself in a presenile syndrome. As the articles have mainly dealt with the exposure of painters, the disease has also been called "the painters syndrome". The publications have brought about, by law, an almost exponential recognition of "the painters syndrome" as an occupational disease. It has therefore become necessary to undertake a critical scientific analysis of the Danish publications which appeared between 1972 and February 1983. The conclusion of this evaluation is, that the Danish articles do not prove that occupational exposure to organic solvents produces a presenile demens. The indications that it does are very slender. The importance of adhering strictly to present regulations of working conditions is emphasized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dementia / chemically induced*
  • Dementia / epidemiology
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Denmark
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Paint*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Solvents / adverse effects*


  • Solvents