Scand J Work Environ Health 1978;4 suppl 2:220-226    pdf | Issue date: 1978

Health status of styrene-polystyrene polymerization workers.

by Lorimer WV, Lilis R, Fischbein A, Daum S, Anderson H, Wolff MS, Selikoff IJ

Styrene monomer is a greatly used chemical, chiefly in the production of polystyrene. A cross-sectional health survey of 493 production workers was undertaken at the oldest and largest monomer production, polymerization, and extrusion facility in the United States. Relative exposure durations and levels were obtained from occupational histories and corroborated by spot air sampling, blood and fat styrene concentrations and levels of urinary mandelic and phenylglyoxylic acids. Statistically significant differences between the prevalence of abnormalities in high and low exposure groups were found for the following: history of acute prenarcotic symptoms, history of acute lower respiratory symptoms, peroneal nerve conduction velocities, relative lymphocytosis, and elevated gamma glutamyl transpetsidase. The following showed no distinct pattern in prevalence when analyzed by exposure group: chest radiographic changes; indices or restrictive, obstructive and small airway dysfunction; other hepatic and hematological parameters; carcinoembryonic antigen level; sputum cytopathology; radial nerve conduction velocities; and ophthalmological findings. Clinically significant abnormalities were rare.