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Prognostic Aspects of Benzene Poisoning
  1. S. Hernberg,
  2. M. Savilahti,
  3. K. Ahlman,
  4. S. Asp
  1. Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  2. The Central Hospital of Hämeenlinna, Finland


    In 1955, a benzene mass-poisoning was detected in a shoe factory in Finland. One hundred and forty-seven persons were heavily exposed, and more than 100 had abnormal blood counts. One died and 10 required hospital treatment. This paper deals with a re-examination of the involved workers nine years later. One hundred and twenty-five persons attended for re-examination. Eight had died, two refused, and 11 could not be located. The possibility of death due to benzene poisoning having occurred among these persons was ruled out by checking the national death register. Each of the subjects underwent a haematological examination which included the haemoglobin value and the erythrocyte, reticulocyte, leucocyte, and thrombocyte counts. A differential count of the leucocytes was also made. A randomly chosen group of 86 persons served as a control group. The thrombocytes of the whole patient group and the erythrocytes of the men were significantly lower than those of the controls, whereas the leucocytes of the whole group and the erythrocytes of the women failed to show any statistical difference. In a multiple discriminant function analysis, considering all three counts at the same time, only the men differed slightly from the controls at the re-examination. The analysis also showed that the prognosis of the severe cases did not differ from that of the mild ones, provided the acute stage had been passed. Some illustrative case reports are added. One patient developed leukaemia after a latency of seven years, whereas most of the others—chosen because of grave symptoms in the initial stage—have recovered. The results are discussed from the point of view of prognosis.

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