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Chronic neurobehavioural effects of toluene.
  1. S C Foo,
  2. J Jeyaratnam,
  3. D Koh
  1. Department of Community, Occupational and Family Medicine, National University of Singapore.


    Neurobehavioural tests were undertaken by 30 female workers exposed to toluene and matched controls with low occupational exposure to toluene. The environmental air levels (TWA) of toluene was 88 ppm for the exposed workers and 13 ppm for the controls. The toluene in blood concentrations for the exposed workers was 1.25 mg/l and for the controls 0.16 mg/l. Statistically significant differences between workers exposed to toluene and controls in neurobehavioural tests measuring manual dexterity (grooved peg board), visual scanning (trail making, visual reproduction, Benton visual retention, and digit symbol), and verbal memory (digit span) were observed. Further, the performance at each of these tests was related to time weighted average exposure concentrations of air toluene. The workers exposed to toluene had no clinical symptoms or signs. The question arises as to whether these impairments in neurobehavioural tests are reversible or whether they could be a forerunner of more severe damage.

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