Work ability score of solvent-exposed workers
- 37 Downloads
Occupational chronic solvent encephalopathy (CSE), characterized by neurocognitive dysfunction, often leads to early retirement. However, only the more severe cases are diagnosed with CSE, and little is known about the work ability of solvent-exposed workers in general. The aim was to study memory and concentration symptoms, work ability and the effect of both solvent-related and non-occupational factors on work ability, in an actively working solvent-exposed population.
A questionnaire on exposure and health was sent to 3640 workers in four solvent-exposed fields, i.e. painters and floor-layers, boat builders, printers, and metal workers. The total number of responses was 1730. We determined the work ability score (WAS), a single question item of the Work Ability Index, and studied solvent exposure, demographic factors, Euroquest memory and concentration symptoms, chronic diseases, and employment status using univariate and multivariate analyses. The findings were compared to those of a corresponding national blue-collar reference population (n = 221), and a small cohort of workers with CSE (n = 18).
The proportion of workers with memory and concentration symptoms was significantly associated with solvent exposure. The WAS of solvent-exposed workers was lower than that of the national blue-collar reference group, and the difference was significant in the oldest age group (those aged over 60). Solvent-exposed worker’s WAS were higher than those of workers diagnosed with CSE. The WAS were lowest among painters and floor-layers, followed by metal workers and printers, and highest among boat builders. The strongest explanatory factors for poor work ability were the number of chronic diseases, age and employment status. Solvent exposure was a weak independent risk factor for reduced WAS, comparable to a level of high alcohol consumption.
Even if memory and concentration symptoms were associated with higher solvent exposure, the effect of solvents on self-experienced work ability was relatively weak. This in line with the improved occupational hygiene and reduced solvent exposure levels in industrialized countries, thus the effect may be stronger in high-level exposure environments. As a single question, WAS is easily included, applicable, and recommendable in occupational screening questionnaires.
KeywordsSolvents Work ability Work ability score Chronic solvent encephalopathy Occupational disease
Compliance with ethical standards
All procedures performed in the studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
- Bäck B, Furu H, Kaukiainen A, Mikkola J, Mäkelä E, Saalo A, Surakka J, Säämänen A, Toppila E, Sainio M (2016) Veneenrakentajat—Liuotinaltistuksen hallinta työkyvyn tukena (Boatbuilders—controlling solvent exposure supports work ability). The Finnish Work Environment Fund, Helsinki (Finnish) Google Scholar
- Dryson E, Ogden J (1998) Chronic solvent neurotoxicity in New Zealand: notified cases between 1993 and 1997. N Z Med J 111:425–427Google Scholar
- Gould R, Ilmarinen J, Järvisalo J, Koskinen S (eds) (2006) Työkyvyn ulottuvuudet (The dimensions of workability). Finnish Centre for Pensions, The Social Insurance Institution of Finland, National Public Health Institute, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki (in Finnish, English abstract) Google Scholar
- Grand View Research (2015) Solvent market analysis by product (hydrocarbons, alcohols, esters, ketones, chlorinated) by application (printing inks, paints and coatings, pharmaceuticals, adhesives and cosmetics) and segment forecasts to 2020. Market Research Report. http://www.grandviewresearch.com
- Kauppinen T, Mattila-Holappa P, Perkiö-Mäkelä M, Saalo A, Toikkanen J, Tuomivaara S, Uuksulainen S, Viluksela M, Virtanen S (2013) Työ ja terveys Suomessa 2012 (Work and health in Finland 2012). Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki (Finnish) Google Scholar
- Kim Y, Jeong K, Yog-Hun Y, Myoung-Soon O (2010) Occupational neurologic disorders in Korea. J Clin Neurol 64–72Google Scholar
- Leira H, Austrheim H, Wannag A (2006) Løysemiddelskader meldt arbeidstilsynet 1985–2005. Ramazzini 4:4–5 (Norwegian) Google Scholar
- Perkiö-Mäkelä M, Hakanen J, Hirvonen M (2012) Työkyky, Työnimu ja työssäjatkamisajatukset (Work ability, work engagement and thoughts on continuing work). In: Perkiö-Mäkelä M, Kauppinen T (eds). Työ, terveys ja työssä jatkamisajatukset (Work, health and thoughts on continuing work), Finnish Institute of Occupational Health pp 99–120 (in Finnish, English summary) Google Scholar
- Sainio M (2015) Neurotoxicity of solvents. In: Lotti M, Bleecker ML (eds), Handbook of clinical neurology, occupational neurology. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 93–110Google Scholar
- Santonen T, Aitio A, Vainio H (2010) Organic chemicals. In: Baxter P, Aw TC, Cockcroft A, Durrington P, Harrington M (eds) Hunter’s diseases of occupations. CRC Press, Cornwall, pp 321–394Google Scholar
- Taskinen H et al (2011) Terveystarkastukset työterveyshuollossa (Health Checks in Occupational Health Care). Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki (in Finnish) Google Scholar
- Toppila E, Forsman P, Pyykkö I, Starck J, Tossavainen T, Uitti J, Oksa P (2006) Effect of styrene on postural stability among reinforced plastic boat plant workers in Finland. J Occup Environ Med 48:175–180Google Scholar
- Tuomi K, Ilmarinen J, Jahkola A, Katajarinne L, Tulkki A (2006) Work Ability Index. Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, HelsinkiGoogle Scholar
- van Valen E, van Thriel C, Akila R, Nordling Nilson L, Bast-Pettersen R, Sainio M, van Dijk F, van der Laan G, Verberk M, Ellie Wekking E (2012) Chronic solvent-induced encephalopathy: European consensus of neuropsychological characteristics, assessment, and guidelines for diagnostics. Neurotoxicology 33:710–726CrossRefGoogle Scholar