Background: Paints and coatings include paints, varnishes, lacquers, stains, printing inks and more. A wide variety of volatile solvents are used in paint and coating manufacturing including aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, alcohols, ketones and consist of more than 30% of most of paints. At low or moderate concentrations, the organic solvents may cause transient symptoms such as euphoria, headache and dizziness. At high concentrations, anaesthesia and disturbances in respiration and circulation may occur and may lead to death. Long-term exposure may cause damage to the Central Nervous System (CNS), such as cognitive and emotional deficits.
Methods: A cross sectional study was conducted among 92 male workers exposed to organic solvents on performing their job in Koratol Paint Factory in Alaama Village in Sharkia Governorate. Another group of 95 workers, not working with organic solvents were selected from the Faculty of Medicine in Zagazig University and considered as a control group. All participants in the study were subjected to a pre-designed questionnaire to collect information about personal, socio-demographic data, occupational history, use of personal protective equipments, frequently perceived health complaints which included irritation symptoms (skin, eye and nose) and Questions of the validated questionnaire for the neuropsychological symptoms (Q22).
Results: The neuropsychological symptoms score (Q22) revealed that 63.04% of solvents exposed paint manufacturing workers had neuropsychological symptoms, compared to about only 2.1% in control group and the difference was statistically significant. Regarding the relation between types of job done and results of neuropsychological symptoms score (Q22) there was increased risk for neuropsychological symptoms in production group than packing group (OR = 13.94) and for the duration of work the risk increased in workers with duration over 15 years (OR = 32.84). Logistic regression analysis showed that the most important predictors of neuropsychological symptoms were the type of job performed by the workers such as production or packing and their duration of work ≥15 years.
Conclusions: The paint industry workers were at increased risk of several irritant and neuropsychological symptoms which significantly related to exposure to paint and organic solvents.