Neuropsychological deficit among elderly workers in aluminum production



A cross-sectional study was conducted at a Norwegian primary aluminum plant. All workers aged 61-66 years were offered early retirement benefits. Among the workers, 47 met the study criteria and 38 (81%), comprising 14 potroom workers, 8 foundry workers, and 16 controls, volunteered to participate. They were tested with a neuropsychological test battery.

Workers in potrooms with Søderberg electrolytic cells were found to show signs of impairment of the nervous system. A test for tremor discriminated significantly between the potroom group and the controls. There was a suggestion of increased risk of impaired visuospatial organization and a tendency to a decline in psychomotor tempo in the potroom workers. We suggest that the above findings may be related to long-term occupational exposure in the potroom, and further to chronic low-dose exposure to aluminum. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.