Dose‐related subclinical neurobehavioral effects of chronic exposure to low levels of organic solvents

Margit L. Bleecker, Karen I. Bolla, Jacqueline Agnew, Brian S. Schwartz, D. Patrick Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


One hundred eight‐seven workers (mean age ± SD; 42 ± 8.8 years) in two paint manufacturing plants were examined to determine if sustained low‐level exposure to mixed organic solvents resulted in the painters' syndrome (a psycho‐organic syndrome). The test battery consisted of a medical and occupational questionnaire, the Present State Examination, the Zung Depression Scale, the Scandinavian Questionnaire 16, a neu‐ropsychological battery, and vibration thresholds. Solvent exposure, expressed as total hydrocarbon of combined selected solvents, was quantitated using 13–15 years of personal breathing zone samplings. Linear regression analysis controlling for several confounding variables demonstrated significant correlations between increasing exposure to mixed organic solvents and neurobehavioral performance for vibration threshold and several neuropsychological tests. Dose‐related effects of chronic solvent exposure on neurobehavioral outcomes (all subclinical) were shown, but “typical” symptoms characteristic of the painter's syndrome were not found.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)715-728
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991


  • chronic solvent exposure
  • neuropsychology
  • painters' syndrome
  • vibration thresholds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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