A longitudinal study was performed to examine whether chronic occupational exposure to pentachlorophenol (PCP) or its compounds causes measurable alterations in the conduction velocity in peripheral nerves as an "adverse effect." In total, the results of nerve conduction velocity (NCV) determinations in 1980 and 1984 in 10 subjects (7 men, 3 women) who had been exposed for an average of 16 years (range 4-24) were available. The concentrations of PCP in the air at the workplace varied between 0.3 and 180 micrograms/m3 and were thus below the maximum allowed concentration (MAK value) of 500 micrograms/m3. The biological monitoring carried out showed the following results: PCP in the serum: 38-1270 micrograms/l; PCP in the urine: 8-1224 micrograms/l. Compared with the upper normal limits (PCP in the serum 150 micrograms/l, PCP in the urine 60 micrograms/l), distinct internal exposure to PCP has resulted in some of the employees. Determinations of the NCV of motor and sensory nerve fibres (ulnar, median, peroneal, and sural nerve) were always in the normal range. A significant difference in the NCV for the period 1980-4 could not be detected. In addition, the correlation analyses did not show any hints of "dose-effect relations." It is concluded that occupational exposure to PCP over several years in the concentrations observed probably do not lead to any adverse effects on the peripheral nervous system.
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