Assessment of Exposure to Perchloroethylene and its Clinical Repercussions for 50 Dry-Cleaning Employees
The purpose of this article is the assessment of occupational exposure to perchloroethylene (PCE) and its clinical repercussions for dry-cleaning employees. The authors measured atmospheric levels of PCE and blood levels in a population of 50 exposed employees then conducted a study of clinical symptomatology in exposed and non-exposed subjects linked with this solvent. Fifty employees and 95 controls were studied. The median value of atmospheric PCE was 7 ppm (0.22–33), and the median blood level of PCE was 73.6 μg/l (11.8–144). These levels were correlated statistically to the action of sludge scraping and to the existence of automatic scrapers (p < 0.01). Eight percent of PCE blood levels were higher than the biological levels recently set in France. The exposed population did not show excessive signs of drowsiness nor of pre-narcotic syndrome or other symptoms studied. Dry-cleaning employees were exposed to PCE at atmospheric levels lower than the French and American chronic recommended exposure levels but some results were higher than recommended values. For PCE blood levels for the general working population, results were respectively lower than French and American national recommended levels in 92% and 94% cases. Risk should be considered, however, carefully in women of childbearing age, as 64% exceeded the recommended blood levels for pregnant women. This exposure did not generate any studied neurobehavioral symptomatology.