Multi-disciplinary cross sectional study on the effects of exposure to typical occupational work materials on the health of painters long employed in the trade

Project No. BGBA #012


completed 02/1996


"Danish painter disease"; suspicion of solvent-induced, mainly neurological damage in the painting and decorating trade. Goal: differentiated investigation into the state of health of painters and decorators; description of typical exposure to dangerous substances in the painting trade as well as objectification and assessment of possible effects associated with solvents, in particular in the area of the central and peripheral nervous system.


Feasibility study to establish the extent of testing and the organisational sequence; cross sectional study of approximately 400 painters and decorators and approximately 210 control persons not exposed to solvents (bricklayers and scaffolders) from the main building trades; measurements at work places; extensive neurological, psychological and general medical tests, function tests of the central and peripheral nervous system, the lungs, the heart and internal organs; extensive laboratory chemical tests of blood and urine, complex biological monitoring including Hb- adduction monitoring (azo-pigments).


Atmospheric measurements and biomonitoring revealed little external or internal health stress due to solvents which could be classified as critical from an occupational medical viewpoint. In some cases increased blood concentrations of working agents were found; typical health impairment, however, could not be observed. The totality of clinical, occupational medical, neurological, psychiatric, neurophysiological and psychological investigations did not suggest any significant increase in the number of diseases or somatic findings as a result of chronic exposure to solvents. Some psychological and psychiatric symptoms ("disturbed well-being") were found to be significantly increased and can be considered a result of solvent exposure. In the same way there may be a relation between solvent exposure and some abnormal findings in the differential hemogram and disturbances of the lipid metabolism.

Last Update:

15 Aug 2000


Financed by:
  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Bau-Berufsgenossenschaften
Research institution(s):
  • Institut und Poliklinik für Arbeits- und Sozialmedizin und Neurologische Universitätsklinik
  • Heidelberg
  • Arbeitsmedizinischer Dienst der Südwestlichen Bau-Berufsgenossenschaft
  • Karlsruhe

construction industry

Type of hazard:

dangerous substances


Epidemiologie, Lösungsmittel, Gesundheitliche Beeinträchtigungen und Störungen

Description, key words:

Significantly increased feeling of ill health in painters and decorators exposed to solvents, no increased frequency of illness