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Arnedo-Pena, A., Bellido-Blasco, J., Villamarin-Vazquez, J. L., Aranda-Mares, J. L., Font-Cardona, N., Gobba, F., Kogevinas, M

Acute health effects after accidental exposure to styrene from drinking water in Spain

Environ Health, 2003, 2, 1, , , IF: --, PMID: 12777181

OBJECTIVES: We studied subjective health symptoms in a population accidentally exposed to high styrene concentrations in drinking tap water. The contamination occurred during the reparation of a water tank. METHODS: Residents of 27 apartments in two buildings using the contaminated water were contacted. A questionnaire on subjective symptoms was administered to 84 out of 93 persons living in the apartments at the time of the accident. Styrene concentration was measured in samples of water collected two days after the accident. The means of exposure associated with appearance of symptoms were examined through case-control analyses. RESULTS: Styrene in water reached concentrations up to 900 &mgr;g/L. Symptoms were reported by 46 persons (attack rate 55 %). The most frequent symptoms were irritation of the throat (26%), nose (19%), eyes (18%) and the skin (14%). General gastrointestinal symptoms were observed with 11% reporting abdominal pain and 7% diarrhea. The factors most strongly associated with symptoms were drinking tap water (OR = 7.8, 95% CI 1.3-48), exposure to vapors from the basement (OR = 10.4, 2.3-47) and eating foods prepared with tap water (OR = 8.6, 1.9-40). All residents in the ground floor reported symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: This accidental contamination led to very high styrene concentrations in water and was related to a high prevalence of subjective symptoms of the eyes, respiratory tract and skin. Similar exposures have been described in workers but not in subjects exposed at their residence. Various gastrointestinal symptoms were also observed in this population probably due to a local irritative effect

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