Scand J Work Environ Health 1981;7 suppl 4:40-47    pdf

Neurobehavioral effects of methyl bromide inhalation exposures.

by Anger WK, Setzer JV, Russo JM, Brightwell WS, Wait RG, Johnson BL

Methyl bromide, a neurotoxic agent with a permissible US exposure limit of 20 ppm, is used primarily as a fumigant by an estimated 75,000 workers in the United States. This project was developed to evaluate the neurobehavioral effects of chronic and subchronic exposure to methyl bromide. One group of rats and rabbits was exposed to 65 ppm of methyl bromide for a total exposure of four 25-h weeks, or 100 h, and rats were exposed to 55 ppm of methyl bromide for a total exposure of 36 30-h weeks, or 1,080 h. Comparable control groups were given similar treatment, but no exposure. Behavioral tests of open field activity and limb coordination were conducted weekly during both phases of the experiment with rats, and eyeblink reflexes were measured weekly in rabbits. Nerve conduction velocity measurements were taken weekly from both rats and rabbits during the 65-ppm four-week exposures and monthly from rats during the 55-ppm 40-week exposures. Exposure to 65 ppm for four weeks significantly reduced eyeblink responses and nerve conduction velocity in rabbits but had no effect on rats. Exposure to 55 ppm of methyl bromide for 36 weeks had no effect on nerve conduction velocity, open-field activity, or coordination in rats.