Neurotoxicology 2006 Sep 6;27(5):852-60. Epub 2006 Mar 6.
Centre for Mental Health Studies, The University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.
Objective: To contrast subjective and objective measures of neuropsychological health in F-111 aircraft Deseal/Reseal maintenance personnel, against two appropriate comparison groups.
Methods: Exposed and comparison participants completed a postal questionnaire which included a validated memory questionnaire and additional questions relating to possible cognitive symptoms. They also underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment and screening for a past or current disturbance of mood. Multiple linear or logistic regression was conducted for each outcome using exposure group and potential confounders as explanatory variables.
Results: There was a strong and consistent excess of self-reported cognitive problems among the exposed group relative to the comparison groups including a 2.8-4.3-fold increase in self-reported symptoms of forgetfulness, loss of concentration and difficulty finding the right word. On detailed neuropsychological testing, the exposed group performed significantly worse than comparisons on tests of psychomotor speed, executive functioning, and new learning/memory. These findings could not be accounted for by disturbances of mood or other potential confounders.
Conclusions: There was a strong and consistent increase in self-reported cognitive problems among the exposed, and small but significant exposure-specific differences on objective tests of cognitive functioning. The findings are consistent with the development of adverse neuropsychiatric changes related to occupational exposure to solvents.