Manganese exposure in steel smelters a health hazard to the nervous system.
In a study of the effects of low-level exposure to manganese (0.19-1.39 mg/m3 for 1-45 years) 30 men (aged 20-64 years) from two steel smelting works and 60 unexposed referents (aged 22-65 years) were examined with the use of a general health inquiry, electroencephalography, event-related auditory evoked potentials, brain-stem auditory evoked potentials, diadochokinesometry, simple and complex reaction time, finger tapping, digit span, mental arithmetic, vocabulary, a coding task, manual dexterity, symptoms, and mood scales, the diagnostic interview scheme, a dynamic rating scale for neurasthenic syndrome, and a comprehensive psychopathological rating scale. No group differences were found in the electroencephalography or the psychiatric examinations. However, there were increased frequencies of some symptoms, the diadochokinesis was slower, the P-300 latency and reaction time were increased, and finger-tapping and digit-span performance were impaired in the exposed group. These effects were interpreted as early (subclinical) signs of disturbances of the same type as parkinsonism.