International journal of hygiene and environmental health vol:209 issue:2 pages:139-50
OBJECTIVES: Diffuse vascular encephalopathy, parkinsonism and peripheral polyneuropathy (PNP) due to CS(2) exposure are known since long. Data concerning low exposure are sparse. The current study aimed to evaluate whether the decrease of exposure below the threshold limit value (TLV) of 31 mg/m(3) results in an absence of neurological health effects using the same health outcomes as in the first study. METHODS: The study was conducted in a group of workers of a viscose rayon plant and a control group (CG, n=66). The exposed group was divided into two groups, according to the average CS(2) exposure being below (EG1; n=60) or above 31 mg/m(3) (EG2; n=25). If the current TLV seemed insufficient to prevent effects, the analysis was repeated with three subgroups (10, >10 to 30, >30 mg/m(3)) to estimate the NOEL. Every participant filled in the neurotoxicity symptom checklist (NSC-60) and the Q16. Clinical neurological examination, computer-assisted neurobehavioral tests (NES) and neurophysiological examinations (nerve conduction velocities and electromyography (EMG)) were performed. RESULTS: Sensorimotor complaints (NSC-60) were significantly worse in both EG1 and EG2 compared to CG (p=0.032) and both exposure groups had a higher proportion of positional tremor compared with CG (p=0.046). Finger tapping in the dominant and non-dominant hand (NES) was worse in EG1 and EG2 compared with CG (both p<0.001). A significant increase in sural nerve SCV, a significant decrease in sural nerve SNAP amplitude and duration and sympathetic skin response (SSR) amplitude, and higher prevalence of EMG abnormalities and PNP was also found in both EG1 and EG2 (p<0.003). All effects remained significant after controlling for possible confounding factors. Further analysis suggested that even average CS(2) exposures of 10 mg/m(3) could still cause effects on positional tremor, finger tapping dominant and non-dominant hand, sural nerve amplitude, SSR amplitude and EMG abnormalities. CONCLUSIONS: An excess of psychomotor slowing, tremor and PNP was found in workers on average exposed to CS(2) concentrations below 31 mg/m(3). Data suggest that even average exposures as low as 10 mg/m(3) can cause the deleterious effects. This indicates that the current TLV insufficiently protects against neurological effects and, as a consequence, should be lowered.