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American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Vol. 59, Iss. 2, February 2016

Sleep disturbances and neurotoxicity in workers exposed to hydrocarbons. An observational study from Algeria


Background Occupational exposure to solvents may lead to neurotoxicity and sleep disturbances. We aimed to investigate the association of occupational exposure to petroleum-derived hydrocarbons with neurotoxicity and sleep disturbance symptoms.

Methods We included male workers handling/distributing petroleum products (exposed, n = 250) and electricians (non-exposed, n = 250) from two companies in Tlemcen (Algeria). Neurotoxicity was evaluated with the Q-16 questionnaire, and sleep disturbances with the Epworth and the Berlin questionnaires. Multivariable Poisson regression models with robust error variances were applied obtaining risk ratios (RR) and their 95% confidence interval (CI).

Results Overall, the prevalence of reported neurotoxicity and sleep disturbance symptoms was higher in exposed than in non-exposed workers. Significant adjusted associations were observed for neurotoxicity, snoring, and excessive sleepiness (RR = 2.2, CI: 1.7–2.8; RR = 1.4; CI: 1.1–1.7; RR = 1.3, CI: 1.2–1.5, respectively). No significant associations were observed with the Epworth score.

Conclusions Our questionnaire-based cross-sectional study suggests that exposure to petroleum-derived hydrocarbons is associated with self-reported sleep disturbances and neurotoxicity symptoms.


Occupational medicine;hydrocarbons;sleep symptoms;neurotoxicity