Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1993;19(4):264-270    pdf


Neurobehavioral functions among workers exposed to manganese ore.

by Chia SE, Foo SC, Gan SL, Jeyaratnam J, Tian CS

The Neurobehavioral Core Test Battery of the World Health Organization was performed on 17 baggers (mean age 36.6 years) in a manganese ore milling plant and 17 referents (mean age 35.7 years). The baggers had a mean exposure period of 7.4 (range 1-14) years with a mean blood manganese concentration of 25.3 (range 15-92.5) micrograms.l-1 [0.46 (0.27-1.68) mumol.l-1]. Of the 37 symptoms related to the nervous system, 20 were more frequently reported by the exposed workers. No significant differences were noted between the nerve conduction of the median and ulnar nerves of the dominant forearm of the two groups. The exposed workers had significantly poorer motor speed, visual scanning, visuomotor coordination, visuomotor and response speed, and visuomotor coordination and steadiness. A clinical examination did not reveal any abnormality among the two groups. Hence a neurobehavioral test battery may be a more sensitive method than a clinical examination in detecting early changes in motor function among manganese-exposed workers.