Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2011;37(2):136-146    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3083

Self-reported symptoms and neuropsychological function among tunnel workers previously exposed to acrylamide and N-methylolacryl­amide

by Goffeng LO, Alvestrand M, Ulvestad B, Sørensen KA, Skaug V, Kjuus H

Objective The aim of this study was to examine possible exposure-related symptoms and neuropsychological changes among tunnel workers previously exposed to grout containing acrylamide and N-methylol­acryl­amide.

Methods In a cross sectional study, 44 male tunnel workers pre­viously expos­ed to acrylamide and N-methylol­acryl­amide during grouting operations were exam­in­ed with neuro­psych­o­logical tests, 2–10 years after last exposure. The control group consisted of 49 male tunnel workers with no history of acrylamide exposure. Questionnaires were used to assess retrospectively recalled symp­toms during work and current symp­toms at the time of the examination.

Results The prevalence of parest­hesia in hands and legs, and leg cramps during work peri­ods were higher in the exposed than control group. Self-reported preval­ence of skin irritat­ion, peeling of skin on the hands, white-finger attacks, headache, and breathlessness was also higher among the exposed workers. The Q-16 ques­tionnaire on current symp­toms indicated higher symptom prevalence among the exposed of impaired me­mory and concen­tration, emot­ion­al change, sleep disturbances, tiredness, headache, and sensory or motor changes. In contrast, no association was found between neuropsychological test results and acrylamide exposure, adjusting for relevant confounders. However, selected motor symptoms were associated with the corresponding results on tests for motor function.

Conclusions Despite higher prevalences of self-reported current symptoms among the acrylamide-exposed compared to the control group, we did not find an association between occupational acryl­amide exposure and health out­comes as measured by the chosen neuropsychological tests. Observed associations between chemical exposure and self-reported symptoms should be interpreted with great caution.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 2006;2 suppl 2:41-46  2004;30(1):21-29  2005;31(4):300-306  2001;27(4):219-226