Organic solvent-induced encephalopathy in industrial painters

J Occup Med. 1986 Feb;28(2):119-25.


Although organic solvents are essential components of an industrial economy, they are not used without risk. The relationship between excessive exposure to organic solvents and subsequent development of chronic encephalopathy has been recognized for nearly 100 years. Fifteen industrial painters who underwent evaluation in an occupational health clinic for symptoms that they related to their work were found to have a high prevalence of neurasthenic symptoms, most frequently, memory loss and personality change. Although neurologic and screening laboratory examinations showed no consistent abnormalities, psychological tests documented poor short-term memory and an array of neuropsychologic deficits. Personality profiles revealed depression, anxiety, and preoccupation with somatic concerns. These findings agree well with previous reports of "chronic painter's syndrome." Heightened awareness among industrial physicians and prospective studies to evaluate existing threshold limit values and personal protective equipment requirements are indicated.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills / drug effects
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Paint / poisoning*
  • Personality / drug effects
  • Solvents / poisoning*
  • Time Factors
  • Wechsler Scales


  • Solvents