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November 1985

Potroom Palsy?Neurologic Disorder in Three Aluminum Smelter Workers

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Neurology (Dr Longstreth) and the Occupational Medicine Program (Dr Rosenstock and Mr Heyer), Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle.

Arch Intern Med. 1985;145(11):1972-1975. doi:10.1001/archinte.1985.00360110042011

• We studied three patients with a progressive neurologic disorder, all of whom had worked for over 12 years in the same potroom of an aluminum smelting plant. All had incoordination and an intention tremor. Two of the three patients had cognitive deficits, and the most severely affected patient also had spastic paraparesis. None had involvement of the peripheral nervous system. Despite extensive evaluations, the cause of these patients' problems remains obscure. It is tempting to implicate one of the numerous substances to which the patients were exposed in the potroom, but none is known to cause the neurologic problems seen in these patients. Neurotoxic effects of aluminum in animals are directed at the central nervous system, and theoretically long-term low-level exposure to aluminum in the potroom could explain the findings in our patients.

(Arch Intern Med 1985;145:1972-1975)

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