Solvent neurotoxicity in vehicle collision repair workers in New Zealand

This study assessed whether solvent use and workplace practices in the vehicle collision repair industry are associated with symptoms of neurotoxicity in spray painters and panel beaters (auto body repair workers). Neurobehavioural symptoms were assessed using a cross-sectional study design in 370 vehicle collision repair and 211 reference workers using the EUROQUEST questionnaire. Full-shift airborne solvent levels were measured in a subset (n=92) of collision repair workers. Solvent exposures were higher in spray painters than in panel beaters, but levels were below current international exposure standards. Collision repair workers were more likely to report symptoms of neurotoxicity than reference workers with ORs of 2.0, 2.4 and 6.4 (all p<0.05) for reporting ?5, ?10 and ?15 symptoms respectively. This trend was generally strongest for panel beaters (ORs of 2.1, 3.3 and 8.2 for ?5, ?10 and ?15 symptoms respectively). Associations with specific symptom domains showed increased risks for neurological (OR 4.2), psychosomatic (OR 3.2), mood (OR 2.1), memory (OR 2.9) and memory and concentration symptoms combined (OR 2.4; all p<0.05). Workers who had worked for 10-19 years or 20+ years in the collision repair industry reported consistently more symptoms than those who had only worked less than 10 years even after adjusting for age. However, those who worked more than 20 years generally reported fewer symptoms than those who worked 10-19 years, suggesting a possible healthy worker survivor bias. The authors concluded that despite low airborne solvent exposures, vehicle collision repair spray painters and panel beaters continue to be at risk of symptoms of neurotoxicity. Authors: Keer S, Glass B, Prezant B, McLean D, Pearce N, Harding E, Echeverria D, McGlothlin J, Babbage DR, Douwes J. ;Full Source: Neurotoxicology. 2016 Oct 11; 57:223-229. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2016.10.005. [Epub ahead of print] ;