Neurobehavioural effects of repeated occupational exposure to toluene and paint solvents

Br J Ind Med. 1985 May;42(5):291-300. doi: 10.1136/oem.42.5.291.


In studies of two workforces 44 men exposed to paint solvents and 52 men working with toluene were compared with age matched comparison groups of non-exposed workers. Scores on a series of performance tests were examined, the solvent exposed in each study functioning less well than their comparison group. The apparent deficit among the paint exposed workers was substantial, but this was reduced after allowance for estimated intellectual capacity. No deficit was apparent on rematching with a second comparison group of more appropriate measured capacity. No evidence was found of impaired nerve conduction in the ulnar or median nerves, and few clinical signs of neurological damage were apparent. Nevertheless, in an associated inquiry of neuropsychological symptoms among 236 painters and 128 non-exposed workers a highly significant excess of symptoms was found among those exposed to paint solvents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior / drug effects*
  • Chemical Industry
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • England
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Paint / adverse effects*
  • Reading
  • Ships
  • Solvents / adverse effects*
  • Toluene / adverse effects*


  • Solvents
  • Toluene