The effect of industrial chemicals on the sensory perception of exposed workers has received scant attention from the medical community to date, and the scientific literature is mainly limited to some case-reports or isolated studies. Possible explanations for this include the complexity of sensory perception, and the lack of agreement among researchers on methods for testing large groups of subjects. Nevertheless, some published studies showed that vision, hearing and olfactory function can be affected by various industrial metals and solvents, and some data exist also for touch and taste. This review discusses the main industrial chemicals involved. The pathogenesis of the toxicity of chemicals to sensory perception may be related to an action on receptors, nerve fibers, and/or the brain; probably, different pathogenetic mechanisms are involved. One of the main problems in this research field is that most of the studies to date evaluated the effect of a single industrial chemical on a single sense: as an example, we know that styrene exposure can impair smell and also hearing and vision but we have little idea whether different senses are impaired in the same worker or whether each impairment is independent. In addition, workers are frequently exposed to different chemicals: co-exposure may have no effect, or result in both an increase or a decrease of the effect, as was observed for hearing loss, but studies on this aspect are largely insufficient. Research shows that both occupational and environmental exposure to industrial chemicals can affect sense organs, and suggests that the decline of perception with age may be, at least partly, related to this exposure. Nevertheless, available evidence is incomplete, and is largely inadequate for an estimation of a safe threshold of exposure. Good quality further research in this field is needed. This is certainly complex and demands adequate resources, but is justified by the ultimate result: the possibility to prevent an avoidable part of the decline in sensory function with age. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.
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|Anno di pubblicazione:||2003|
|Titolo:||Occupational exposure to chemicals and sensory organs: a neglected research field|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Articolo su rivista|
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