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Neurobehavioural effects of short duration exposures to acetone and methyl ethyl ketone.
  1. R B Dick,
  2. J V Setzer,
  3. B J Taylor,
  4. R Shukla
  1. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, USA.


    A total of 137 volunteers were recruited and tested for neurobehavioural performance before, during, and after a short duration (4 h) exposure to acetone at 250 ppm, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) at 200 ppm, acetone at 125 ppm with MEK at 100 ppm, or a placebo. Ethanol (95%-0.84 ml/kg) was used as a positive control. Performance testing was computer controlled and took place in an environmental chamber with four test stations. The total test regimen before, during, and after exposure covered 10 hours and 32 measures were collected. The measurements were extracted from two biochemical (venous blood and alveolar breath) tests, four psychomotor (choice reaction time, visual vigilance, dual task (auditory tone discrimination and tracking), memory scanning) tests, one sensorimotor (postural sway) test, and one psychological (profile of mood states (POMS] test. The exposure to 250 ppm acetone produced small but statistically significant changes in performance from controls in two measures of the auditory tone discrimination task and on the anger hostility scale (men only) of the POMS test. Neither MEK nor the combined acetone/MEK exposures produced statistically significant interpretable results. The combination exposure provides some indication that there was no potentiation of the acetone effects with the coexposure to MEK or vice versa. More pronounced performance decrements occurred with ethanol at 0.07-0.08% BAC. Significant (less than 0.05) differences were evident on both the auditory tone and tracking tests in the dual task and there was partial significance on the visual vigilance test (0.05-0.06) and some postural sway measures (less than 0.09). These findings agree with an earlier Japanese study in showing some mild decrements on behavioural performance tests with exposures to acetone at 250 ppm.

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