The neuropsychological performance of a group of 49 workers occupationally exposed to lead was compared with a matched control group of 36 non-exposed workers. The psychometric measurements were composed of tests covering a broad range of different neuropsychological functions, particular emphasis being given to perceptual motor ability and attention concentration functioning. A questionnaire to assess subjective symptoms in mood, sleep disturbance, poor concentration and forgetfulness, somatic complaints, and social passivity was also included in the battery of tests. Compared with the controls, the performance of the lead workers was found to be significantly poorer for digit symbol, Bourdon-Wiersma, trail making test (part A), Santa Ana test, flicker fusion, and simple reaction time. In terms of subjective symptoms the exposed group also reported significantly more complaints of anxiety and depressed mood, poor concentration and forgetfulness, and other somatic complaints. These differences were observed among lead workers with a mean blood lead value of 2.35 mumol/l (SD 0.7).
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