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December 1987

Evidence of Neurologic Dysfunction Related to Long-term Ethylene Oxide Exposure

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology (Dr Estrin) and the Division of Occupational Medicine (Drs Wald, Becker, Cone, and Messrs Cavalieri and Jones), University of California at San Francisco.

Arch Neurol. 1987;44(12):1283-1286. doi:10.1001/archneur.1987.00520240057012

• Eight hospital workers with chronic ethylene oxide exposure were age-sex matched with eight nonexposed controls with no significant differences in educational backgrounds and vocabulary scores. The exposed group performed more poorly on all eight measures of cognition, memory, attention, and coordination, with 71.3% less accuracy on the Hand-Eye Coordination Test. There was a dose-response relationship between exposure and the following: Continuous Performance Test and sural velocity. These findings suggest that neurologic dysfunction may result from long-term low-dose exposure to ethylene oxide, and that these effects may occur at exposure levels common in hospital sterilizer operations.