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J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 2007 Nov-Dec;10(6):417-65.

State-of-the-science review: Does manganese exposure during welding pose a neurological risk?

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ENVIRON International Corporation, Houston, Texas 77042, USA.


Recent studies report that exposure to manganese (Mn), an essential component of welding electrodes and some steels, results in neurotoxicity and/or Parkinson's disease (PD) in welders. This "state-of-the-science" review presents a critical analysis of the published studies that were conducted on a variety of Mn-exposed occupational cohorts during the last 100 yr, as well as the regulatory history of Mn and welding fumes. Welders often perform a variety of different tasks with varying degrees of duration and ventilation, and hence, to accurately assess Mn exposures that occurred in occupational settings, some specific information on the historical work patterns of welders is desirable. This review includes a discussion of the types of exposures that occur during the welding process--for which limited information relating airborne Mn levels with specific welding activities exists--and the human health studies evaluating neurological effects in welders and other Mn-exposed cohorts, including miners, millers, and battery workers. Findings and implications of studies specifically conducted to evaluate neurobehavioral effects and the prevalence of PD in welders are also discussed. Existing exposure data indicate that, in general, Mn exposures in welders are less than those associated with the reports of clinical neurotoxicity (e.g., "manganism") in miners and smelter workers. It was also found that although manganism was observed in highly exposed workers, the scant exposure-response data available for welders do not support a conclusion that welding is associated with clinical neurotoxicity. The available data might support the development of reasonable "worst-case" exposure estimates for most welding activities, and suggest that exposure simulation studies would significantly refine such estimates. Our review ends with a discussion of the data gaps and areas for future research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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