Fluoride Action Network


OBJECTIVES: This study assessed the health effects associated with occupational exposure to methyl bromide and sulfuryl fluoride among structural fumigation workers.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study of 123 structural fumigation workers and 120 referents in south Florida was conducted. Nerve conduction, vibration, neurobehavioral, visual, olfactory, and renal function testing was included.

RESULTS: The median lifetime duration of methyl bromide and sulfuryl fluoride exposure among workers was 1.20 years and 2.85 years, respectively. Sulfuryl fluoride exposure over the year preceding examination was associated with significantly reduced performance on the Pattern Memory Test and on olfactory testing. In addition, fumigation workers had significantly reduced performance on the Santa Ana Dexterity Test of the dominant hand and a nonsignificantly higher prevalence of carpal tunnel syndrome than did the referents.

CONCLUSIONS: Occupational sulfuryl fluoride exposures may be associated with subclinical effects on the central nervous system, including effects on olfactory and some cognitive functions. However, no widespread pattern of cognitive deficits was observed. The peripheral nerve effects were likely caused by ergonomic stresses experienced by the fumigation workers.