A cross sectional study to evaluate symptom reporting and neuropsychological test performance among a cohort of car body repair workers (n = 124) was performed using a computer-administered test system. Subjects with high and medium current exposures to solvent and paint (n = 39 and 32), and low exposure subjects who formerly painted (n = 29) reported significantly more acute and chronic neurological symptoms than did low exposure subjects with no history of painting (n = 24). Subjects with higher current exposure performed significantly less well on selected tests of visual perception and memory, but there were no significant exposure related differences in mood state, motor speed, or visuomotor performance. The exposure related effects were most noticeable among subjects 35 years or older. The findings are consistent with age interactive central neurotoxic effects of current exposure to solvents or of cumulative past exposure, although the study is unable to distinguish between these possibilities. The computer administered test system was effective in this field based investigation involving multiple, geographically dispersed worksites.
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