Author(s): Jovanovi J, Jovanovi M
INTRODUCTION: Organic solvents are chemically different compounds with one common feature: they dissolve fats, oils, resins, cellulose acetate and cellulose nitrate, which makes them widely used in industry. Most often organic solvents are used in paint and lacquer industries, in production of pesticides, plastics, explosives, rubber, cellulose, air conditioners, in pharmaceutical industry and in leather industry. The aim of this research was to analyze the working environment and professional hazards in paint and lacquer manufacturing industry and evaluate effects of chronic exposure to mixture of organic solvents on nervous system of exposed workers. METHODOLOGY: The exposed group consisted of 50 workers professionally exposed to these noxae, while the control group consisted of 30 workers who have never been exposed to these noxae. RESULTS: Examination of working environment in departments of paint and lacquer manufacturing revealed presence of white spirit and toluene above allowed levels. Exposed workers more frequently complained of fatigue, hand numbness, enhanced excitation, and concentration difficulties, forgetfulness and headaches, than workers from the control group. Electroneurographic examination of n. medianus showed reduced motor and sensitive conduction velocity among exposed in comparison to workers from the control group. Reduced motor and sensitive conduction velocity was correlated with duration of exposure to these noxae. Terminal latency of n. medianus was statistically, significantly longer in the exposed group than in the control group. Workers in the exposed group have statistically significantly longer reaction time in response to acoustic and visual stimuli. DISCUSSION: Segmental demyelination and axonal degeneration, as forms of damage to peripheral nerves, were identified as responsible for peripheral neuropathy associated with occupational exposure to organic solvents. CONCLUSION: Results of this study show possible neurotoxic effects of noxae detected in the phase of analysis of working conditions and working environment of examined workers.