P300 brain potential among workers exposed to organic solvents
The P300 component of the auditory event-related brain potential was examined in a group of 11
workers exposed to low levels of organic solvents in a paint factory and 11 unexposed controls before
and after 3 weeks of summer vacation. The P300 latency time was found to be prolonged among the
exposed workers compared to the reference group before the summer vacation, and to be significantly
longer before the vacation than after in the exposed group.
The P300 component was also examined in a group of 85 seamen from chemical tankers, experiencing
peak exposures to organic solvents. They were compared to a reference group of unexposed
seamen. Comparing these two groups, no difference was found in the P300 latency time. No relationship
between the P300 latency time and exposure was found in a multiple regression analysis, including
the variables age, alcohol consumption, smoking and cerebral concussions.
The study indicates the occurrence of an acute biological effect in the nervous system related to
organic solvent exposure, expressed by prolonged P300 latency time. This was found at very low
exposure levels and should be studied further.
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