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Journal Article


Kang CW, Kim H, Shin K, Ryu J, Jung-Choi K, Lim KH, Kim JH. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018; 15(7): e15071332.


Department of Ophthalmology, College of Medicine, Ewha Womans University, Seoul 07985, Korea.


(Copyright © 2018, MDPI: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute)






An outbreak of occupational methanol poisoning occurred in small-scale, third-tier factories of large-scale smartphone manufacturers in the Republic of Korea in 2016. To investigate the working environment and the health effects of methanol exposure among co-workers in the methanol poisoning cases, we performed a cross-sectional study on 155 workers at five aluminum Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) cutting factories. Gas chromatography measured air and urinary methanol concentration. In the medical examination, symptom surveys, ophthalmological examinations, and neurobehavioral tests were done. Multiple logistic regression analyses controlling for age and sex were conducted to reveal the association of employment duration with symptoms. Air concentrations of methanol in factory A and E ranged from 228.5 to 2220.0 ppm. Mean urinary methanol concentrations of the workers in each factory were from 3.5 mg/L up to 91.2 mg/L. The odds ratios for symptoms of deteriorating vision and central nervous system (CNS) increased according to the employment duration after adjusting for age and sex. Four cases with an injured optic nerve and two cases with decreased neurobehavioral function were founded among co-workers of the victims. This study showed that the methanol exposure under poor environmental control not only produces eye and CNS symptoms but also affects neurobehavioral function and the optic nerve. The role of subcontracting production and dispatched work under poor environmental control was discussed.

Language: en


dispatched workers; methanol exposure; neurobehavioral function; subcontractor manufacturing; toxic effects; visual defect


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