Behavioral Biomarkers to Identify Neurotoxic Effects

  • W. Kent Anger
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 250)


Neurotoxic chemicals pose a particularly serious health threat due to the unique and critical role of the nervous system in body function. Exacerbating this potential impact is the vulnerability of the nervous system due to: (a) it’s unparalleled complexity; (b) the limited potential for repair of neurons; (c) the extensive energy dependence and metabolic requirements unique to this system; and, (d) the tendency of lipids to accumulate toxicants. To further target this vulnerable system, some chemicals used in the workplace and the environment (e.g., pesticides) are specifically designed to destroy nervous system elements (National Research Council, 1992). These and other factors led several House and Senate Committees of the US Congress to commission the New Developments in Neuroscience Advisory Panel to study issues surrounding neurotoxicity and suggest options for Congressional action. The study “Neurotoxicity,” published by the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment (1990), notes that the entire US population “is at risk of being adversely affected by neurotoxic substances” (US Congress/OTA, 1990, p. 8) and identified the unique value of human biological monitoring programs “to detect exposure to toxic substances and to aid in making decisions about health risks” (US Congress/OTA, 1990, p. 12–13). This potential exposure and recognized need for biological monitoring programs extends to every corner of the world.


Behavioral Test Neurotoxic Effect Digit Span Simple Reaction Time Hazardous Waste Site 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Kent Anger
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology, L606Oregon Health Sciences UniversityPortlandUSA

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