Effects of exposure to mixed volatile organic compounds on the neurobehavioral test performance in a cross-sectional study of US adults


While the environmental exposure to multiple volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is ubiquitous, its neurobehavioral effects are not well understood. We assessed the associations between short-term exposure to VOC mixtures and neurobehavioral test performances on 497 participants in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, using quantile and ordinary least squares regression models. We grouped 10 blood VOCs into 3 mixtures based on the principal component analysis, where Mix1 included benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, m-/p-xylene, o-xylene, and styrene; Mix2 included chloroform and tetrachloroethene; and Mix3 included 1,1,1-trichloroethane and 1,4-dichlorobenzene. We found a general lack of significant adverse effects with exceptions limited to those with the worst performance (i.e. the top 10 percent) in the simple reaction time test, suggesting that these people were potentially more susceptible to impacts of VOC mixtures. However, further research is needed to clarify the neurobehavioral effects of chronic low-level exposure to VOC mixtures among the general population.

Publication Title

International Journal of Environmental Health Research