American journal of industrial medicine vol:32 issue:6 pages:656-64
Recent studies have suggested that occupational exposure to solvents may be a cause of sleep apnea. Digital oximetry during one night was performed in solvent-exposed offset printers (n = 21) and in a control group (n = 21), using a Palco 400 Pulse Oximeter. The threshold for recording was set at an arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) of 90%. Furthermore, computerized neurobehavioral tests (NES) and a solvent-related complaints questionnaire (NSC-60) were administered. The mean exposure time was 15 years (SD = 10). Hygiene measurements revealed a large number of different solvents and a cumulative exposure between 15% and 97% of the "cumulative TLV." The exposed workers had more solvent-related complaints, especially regarding mood (analysis of covariance, P = 0.02), than the nonexposed workers. The neurobehavioral tests indicated that hand-eye coordination was significantly worse in the exposed group (analysis of covariance, P = 0.03). The frequency of nocturnal desaturation was significantly higher in the printers (1.7 events/hr +/- SD = 1.5) than in the controls (0.6 events/hr +/- SD = 1.3) (Mann-Whitney test, P < 0.01). Also, the duration of desaturation was longer in the exposed workers: 3.2 min/hr (SD = 3.2) vs 1.2 min/hr (SD = 2.3) (Mann-Whitney test, P < 0.01). In the analysis of covariance, exposure (P = 0.04) and the interaction between smoking and exposure (P = 0.02) were shown to contribute significantly to the excess of nocturnal desaturation in the exposed. The same was true for the mean duration of desaturation (exposure: P = 0.02 and interaction exposure smoking: P = 0.02). The significant interaction was due to a more pronounced effect of solvent exposure among the nonsmoker group. No relation was found between the excess of complaints or the neuroperformance effects and the oximetry data. These data reinforce the presumption that occupational solvent exposure might contribute to sleep-disordered breathing.