Objectives: This work was undertaken to determine whether there are any chronic neurological sequelae to acute organophosphate pesticide poisoning.
Methods: California surveillance data were used in a study of neurological function among 128 men poisoned by organophosphate pesticides in California from 1982 to 1990 and 90 referents. Tests included a neurological physical examination, 5 nerve conduction tests, 2 vibrotactile sensitivity tests, 10 neurobehavioral tests, and 1 postural sway test.
Results: After correcting for confounding, the poisoned group performed significantly worse than the referent group on two neurobehavioral tests (sustained visual attention and mood scales). When the data were restricted to men with documented cholinesterase inhibition (n = 83) or to men who had been hospitalized (n = 36), the poisoned subjects also showed significantly worse vibrotactile sensitivity of finger and toe. Significant trends of increased impairment were found with increased days of disability on a wide spectrum of tests of both central and peripheral nerve function.
Conclusions: While these findings are limited by low response rates and by small sample sizes for specific pesticides, this study was based on a large surveillance database and is the largest study to date of the chronic effects of organophosphate pesticide poisoning. The evidence of some long-term effects of poisoning is consistent with two prior studies.