A population of 379 Dutch workers exposed to organic solvents was compared with a non-exposed population of 443 workers with regard to the prevalence of prenarcotic and neuraesthenic symptoms. Participants completed a questionnaire to collect information about their occupational history, exposure to organic solvents, and the occurrence of symptoms. The results of the study indicated that workers exposed to solvents have a higher reporting rate of prenarcotic symptoms than workers not exposed to solvents. The prevalence of chronic neurotoxic effects, however, in the form of neuraesthenic symptoms was only weakly associated with reported exposure to organic solvents. The influence of work stress in the development of these symptoms is perhaps more important than the role of exposure to organic solvents. It is concluded that the organic solvent syndrome type I, as defined by an international workshop, is not an important health hazard among Dutch painters.
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