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Why solvents can affect brain health even at low levels of exposure

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The health effects associated with occupational exposure to solvents have long been recognised. But despite greater health and safety awareness in general, our research suggests that workers from some industries are still at risk.

Several studies have shown both acute (short-term) and chronic (persistent) effects, particularly on the central nervous system, in workers exposed to solvent mixtures. The symptoms include problems with mood, memory, concentration and dexterity.

In New Zealand, it has been estimated that 100,000 people are exposed to solvents at work. In our research, we investigated the impact on spray painters and panel beaters. We found that although their average exposure to airborne solvents was generally compliant with workplace standards, they reported more symptoms than other blue-collar workers.

Read more: Solvents and benzene contribute to memory loss

Workplace conditions in the vehicle collision repair industry have most likely improved over the past decade internationally, and solvent exposures have declined as a result. However, very little research has been conducted in the past 10 years, and it is not clear whether the improvements have........

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