More education may protect workers from the effects of exposure to solvents and other chemicals over a lifetime.

Less educated people may have cognitive problems later in life after working with solvents

Researchers found that people with less than a high school education may be affected by reduced thinking skills later in life if they have been exposed to solvents at work.

However, the same amount of exposure did not affect the thinking skills of people who have completed more education.

More education earlier in life may help build up a buffer for cognitive skills, the researchers theorize, building up a denser network of connections in the brain.

The study included more than 4,000 workers who were employed at the French national gas and electric company for most of their careers.

The researchers assessed their lifetime exposure to four types of solvents:

  1. Chlorinated solvents
  2. Petroleum solvents
  3. Benzene
  4. Non-benzene aromatic solvents

The participants’ thinking skills were tested when they were 59 years old. A total of 58 percent of the workers had less than a high school education, and 32 percent had cognitive impairment (problems with thinking skills), compared to 16 percent of workers with higher levels of education.

Non-benzene aromatic solvents showed the highest risk of cognitive problems, followed by benzene solvents and then chlorinated and petroleum solvents.

The study authors say that education earlier in life could serve as a protective shield against a variety of known and unknown exposures during a lifetime.

The study is published in the May 29, 2012, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Air cleaners for airborne chemicals and VOCs

Solvents are a major source of exposure to chemicals and VOCs for workers that inhale them on a regular basis.

Along with other health and safety measures, a portable air cleaner with many pounds of the right type of activated carbon can help remove those airborne gases and chemicals and provide cleaner and healthier air.

Electrocorp manufactures highly efficient air cleaners for industrial and commercial applications that feature some of the largest adsorbent surface areas and longest lasting carbon filters.

Contact an Electrocorp air filtration expert for more information.

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