The objective of this study was to reveal the health effects of acrylonitrile (AN) in seven Japanese acrylic fiber manufacturing factories. The study subjects were 157 AN-exposed male shift workers who had been exposed to AN for 17 years on the average and 537 control workers whose working conditions were similar to those of the AN-exposed workers. The seven factories were classified into two groups according to their AN exposure levels in 1987, and also into three groups on the basis of 1976 exposure levels. The most highly exposed group of subjects showed a mean AN concentration of 1.13 ppm by personal sampling. Medical examination failed to detect any health effects attributable to long-term exposure to AN, although the existence of some symptoms of acute irritation could not be completely ruled out. The results of this study may provide a “no observed effects level” for human on-the-job exposure with regard to the health effects examined here.
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