Surveillance of early neurotoxic dysfunction

Neurotoxicology. 1996 Fall-Winter;17(3-4):803-12.


Surveillance of early neurotoxic alterations was undertaken in 3 reinforced plastics plants, with a view to preventive intervention. Using a longitudinal study design, exposure parameters (environmental styrene in the respiratory zone of each worker and end-shift mandelic acid (MA)) and neurobehavioral performance (Neurobehavioral Core Test Battery and Field Assessment: Sensory Tests), were assessed at time zero (T0); recommendations were made to reduce exposure at jobsites with the highest risk. Reassessment was made two years later (T2). Complete exposure data was available for 118 workers at T0; 75 were still employed at T2; of these, 57 (76%) returned for testing. Those who returned had more seniority (p < 0.001) and higher MA (p < 0.01) and styrene (p < 0.05) levels at T0 than the others. Analyses, performed on the T0-T2 differences, showed improvement in exposure parameters in Plant 3, where lower levels were observed at T2 for styrene (p < 0.05) and MA (p < 0.001). workers in Plant 3 (n = 29) performed better (p < 0.05) at T2 for short term memory, perceptuo-motor speed, motor precision and manual dexterity; they reported more vigor (p < 0.05) and less anger (p = 0.07). This was not the case for the workers from the other plants. Generally, the T0-T2 difference in MA was associated (Spearman's Rho) with differences in color vision (p < 0.001), simple reaction time (mean and standard deviation), digit span forward, tension, fatigue and the number of symptoms (p < 0.05); aiming precision showed a similar tendency (p < 0.10). These findings suggest that group surveillance of early nervous system changes for jobs with exposure to neurotoxins, using a sensitive neurofunctional test battery, may be useful for preventive intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Neurotoxins / toxicity*
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Styrene
  • Styrenes / toxicity*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Neurotoxins
  • Styrenes
  • Styrene