4320.0: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 9:30 PM

Abstract #14516

Peripheral neuropathy and n-hexane exposure among automotive mechanics: Follow-up of a case study

Michael P. Wilson, MPH1, Leslie Israel, OD, MPH2, Carolyn Baker, MPH3, James Cone, MD, MPH3, S Katharine Hammond, PhD, CIH1, Patrick Larabie, MD, MPH2, and Rupali Das, MD, MPH3. (1) Environmental Health Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, 140 Earl Warren Hall, #7360, Berkeley, CA 94720, 510-622-4304, mpwilson@uclink4.berkeley.edu, (2) Occupational Health Services, University of California, San Francisco, 2380 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94115, (3) Occupational Health Branch, California Department of Health Services, 1515 Clay St. Suite 1901, Oakland, CA 94612


Two cases of peripheral neuropathy were reported among automotive repair mechanics exposed to n-hexane. The use of hexane-based aerosolized solvents in California's 26,000 automotive repair shops is expected to increase rapidly in the next three years in response to a possible phase-out of chlorinated solvents by the California EPA.


To determine the extent to which the two index cases represented a wide-spread occupational health problem.


We invited 14 workers at one automotive repair shop where n-hexane-containing degreasers were used to participate in a medical screening. The screening included an exposure history and symptom questionnaire, physical examination, nerve conduction test, a neuropsychological examination and a color vision test. Urine analysis was conducted for determination of the presence of 2,5-hexanedione, the primary metabolite of n-hexane.


Six (42%) of the mechanics completed the medical screening. One of the six participants exhibited signs of peripheral neuropathy as evidenced by history of significant n-hexane exposure, symptoms, physical examination and results of the nerve conduction exam. Urinary 2,5-hexanedione levels are pending.


Peripheral neuropathy among automotive mechanics is not isolated to the two index cases from one initial shop.


n-Hexane exposures in the automotive repair industry warrant close attention, particularly as pressure is applied by environmental agencies to eliminate chlorinated solvents from the market, including perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene and methylene chloride. A comprehensive toxic use reduction policy in California, such as the Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction Act, would prevent future relocation of health hazards by integrating occupational health concerns into environmental initiatives.

Learning Objectives: 1) Recognize the potential for n-hexane-induced peripheral neuropathy among automotive repair mechanics; 2) Recognize the importance of integrating occupational health concerns into environmental initiatives

Keywords: Occupational Exposure, Environmental Exposures

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA