OBJECTIVES--To understand the prevalence of polyneuropathy and correlations among the clinical manifestations, electrophysiological findings, and degree of exposure to carbon disulphide (CS2) in workers who were exposed to variable concentrations of CS2 in a viscose rayon factory. METHODS--All the 163 workers received a detailed physical and neurological evaluation. Fixed point air samples were analysed for CS2. Nerve conduction velocity was studied in 26 workers with symptoms similar to neuropathy. RESULTS--Nine workers (53%) with overt polyneuropathy from the fibre cutting department and 19 workers (13%) with oligosymptoms similar to polyneuropathy from various jobs were noted. The fixed point air concentrations of CS2 were 150-300 ppm in the cutting areas and 15 to 100 ppm in the spinning areas. The estimated eight hour time weighted averages in the fibre cutting areas were 40-67 ppm. The occurrence of polyneuropathy was generally correlated with the degree of exposure to CS2. Nerve conduction velocities (NCVs) were significantly different in the overt polyneuropathy and subclinical polyneuropathy groups from the normal controls. The sensitive indicators for CS2 polyneuropathy were distal latency, motor NCV, and amplitude of sensory nerve action potentials in sensory NCVs. CONCLUSION--The outbreak of polyneuropathy was attributed to higher concentrations of CS2 in fibre cutting areas. Even in other jobs with relatively lower concentrations of CS2, the hazard of subclinical polyneuropathy cannot be overlooked.
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