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February 22, 1980

An Epidemic of Urinary Retention Caused by Dimethylaminopropionitrile

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Occupational Medicine, Department of Medicine, Baltimore City Hospitals (Drs Keogh and Wertheimer); Department of Neurology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Dr Pestronk); and Maryland Division of Labor and Industry (Ms Moreland); Baltimore.

JAMA. 1980;243(8):746-749. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300340022013

An epidemic of urinary retention among workers in a polyurethane manufacturing plant was discovered in the spring of 1978. The most severely affected workers had neurogenic bladders confirmed by cystometrograms and mild sensory peripheral neuropathy. A survey of the plant disclosed increased incidence of urinary retention, muscle weakness, paresthesia, insomnia, and sexual dysfunction in exposed workers. A catalyst containing dimethylaminopropionitrile was identified as the probable causative agent, and after its removal no new cases occurred.

(JAMA 243:746-749, 1980)