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Impaired colour discrimination among workers exposed to styrene: relevance of a urinary metabolite.
  1. T Eguchi,
  2. R Kishi,
  3. I Harabuchi,
  4. J Yuasa,
  5. Y Arata,
  6. Y Katakura,
  7. H Miyake
  1. Department of Public Health, Sapporo Medical University, Japan.


    OBJECTIVES--To survey the loss of colour vision among Japanese workers who have been exposed to styrene concentrations currently considered low (about 20 ppm). Also to assess the effects of styrene by examination of the nature of the relation between disorder of colour vision and age, alcohol consumption, and other variables. METHODS--Colour discrimination was examined in 64 male workers exposed to styrene (mean age; 38.0, mean exposed years; 7.0) and in 69 controls (mean age; 38.0). A standardised questionnaire was adopted to collect work history, occupational or non-occupational solvent exposure, alcohol consumption, and drug use. Colour vision was evaluated by the Lanthony desaturated panel D-15 test. The results of the test were expressed as the colour confusion index (CCI). RESULTS--The mean atmospheric styrene concentration was about 20 ppm. The mean urinary concentration of mandelic acid was 0.22 g/l. There was a significant difference in CCI between exposed workers and age matched controls. Colour vision of workers whose concentration of urinary mandelic acid was > or = 0.42 g/l was significantly impaired when compared with workers whose concentration was < 0.42 g/l. Multiple linear regression analysis that controlled confounding variables such as age, alcohol consumption, smoking, and educational attainment showed that the CCI was significantly related to the concentration of urinary mandelic acid. In both exposed workers and controls, the types of defects were mostly blue-yellow loss, although a few subjects showed complex loss. No one showed only red-green loss. CONCLUSIONS--These findings suggest that exposure to moderate styrene concentrations can lead to impairment of colour vision, and that there is a significant correlation with the urinary metabolite of styrene.

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