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Neuroendocrine effects in printing workers exposed to toluene.
  1. B G Svensson,
  2. G Nise,
  3. E M Erfurth,
  4. H Olsson
  1. Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.


    The effect of exposure to toluene on plasma concentrations of testosterone, prolactin, luteinising (LH) and follicle stimulating (FSH) hormones was investigated in 47 rotogravure printers (time weighted average air toluene below 80 ppm; blood toluene concentration post-shift 0.19-7.99 mumol/l) and compared with a reference group. Increasing exposure concentrations of toluene (concentrations less than 5 to greater than 45 ppm) were significantly associated with decreasing plasma concentrations of LH (tau = -0.21, p = 0.003) and testosterone (tau = -0.25, p = 0.02). No correlation was found between cumulative exposure (ppm x years) and plasma hormone concentrations. The associations with exposure were present even when nine printers with heavy alcohol consumption were excluded. The study indicates an effect of low toluene exposure on the hypothalamus-pituitary axis, with a secondary decrease in testosterone secretion.

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