Exposure to styrene and mortality from nervous system diseases and mental disorders

Esther Welp, Manolis Kogevinas, Aage Andersen, Tom Bellander, Marco Biocca, David Coggon, Jacques Esteve, Valerio Gennaro, Henrik Kolstad, Ingvar Lundberg, Elsebeth Lynge, Timo Partanen, Alan Spence, Paolo Boffetta, Gilles Ferro, Rodolfo Saracci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Chronic low-dose exposure to solvents has been associated in epidemiologic studies with chronic neurotoxicity, but the evidence is not consistent. Styrene causes acute disturbances in the central and peripheral nervous systems. To determine if exposure to styrene may contribute to chronic diseases of the central nervous system, the authors examined mortality from nervous system diseases, mental disorders, and suicide in relation to styrene exposure in an international historical cohort study. The cohort involved 35,443 workers employed during 1945-1991 in the reinforced plastics industry, where high exposures to styrene occur. Indicators of exposure were reconstructed through job histories and environmental and biologic monitoring data. Poisson regression was used for internal comparisons. Mortality from diseases of the central nervous system (27 deaths) increased with time since first exposure, duration of exposure, average level of exposure, and cumulative exposure to styrene. A quadratic model described best the dose-response shape for cumulative exposure and duration of exposure with the highest risks at around 300 ppm-years and 5 years, respectively, and a subsequent decrease in risk in the highest exposure categories. Mortality from epilepsy increased monotonically with all styrene exposure indicators, while associations for degenerative diseases of the central nervous system were generally weaker. Mortality from mental disorders and suicide decreased with increasing duration of exposure and cumulative exposure, while there was no trend with time since first exposure and average exposure to styrene. These findings suggest that, in addition to the known acute effects, exposure to styrene may contribute to chronic diseases of the central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-633
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Volume144
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 1996

Keywords

  • central nervous system
  • cohort studies
  • mental disorders
  • mortality
  • occupational health
  • styrenes
  • suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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  • Cite this

    Welp, E., Kogevinas, M., Andersen, A., Bellander, T., Biocca, M., Coggon, D., Esteve, J., Gennaro, V., Kolstad, H., Lundberg, I., Lynge, E., Partanen, T., Spence, A., Boffetta, P., Ferro, G., & Saracci, R. (1996). Exposure to styrene and mortality from nervous system diseases and mental disorders. American Journal of Epidemiology, 144(7), 623-633.