Numerous chemicals can produce neurotoxic disease in humans, but only a small fraction of chemicals has been adequately evaluated for neurotoxicity. In 2009, a conservative estimate set the number of neurotoxic chemicals in the workplace at more than 1,000.
Occupationally related neurotoxic disorders have been known since antiquity and continue to occur. The presence of chemical hazards in the workplace may result in several neurologic diseases. The variety of neurotoxic disorders reflects both the nature and the size of hazards, and the complex web of nervous system’s organisations, functions, and targets. The complexity of the nervous system results in a broad range of potential targets and adverse effects, since the activity of the nervous system maintains a balance between all the various organs in the body.
The article provides a general overview of occupational exposure to dangerous substances and the link with neurotoxicity. It provides definitions and an introduction to the most relevant neurotoxic agents and neurotoxic syndromes. The heavy metals lead, arsenic, manganese and mercury are considered as the most neurotoxic agents form the occupational point of view. Exposure to plant protection products and biocides can impact plethora of severe neurological diseases. Organic solvents exposure can cause acute and long-term neurological damage.