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S.E. Brodie, R.A. Chanis, J.B. Serle, M. McDermott, A. Fleury, M. Fahim, L. Polikoff, D.J. Gagliuso, J.E. Storm; Visual Effects of Residential Exposure to the Dry-Cleaning Solvent Perchloroethyline (perc) -- A Case-Control Study . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2003;44(13):783.
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Purpose: To investigate the possibility that residential exposure to the dry-cleaning solvent perchlorethylene ("perc") may cause visual impairment, as suggesteed by previous studies. Methods: Residential buildings with dry-cleaners using perc on-site were identified in nine Manhattan Zip Codes. Attempts were made to reach every household in each building. Households containing both adults and children were invited to participate. Households in the same Zip Codes containing adults and children were identified in similar buildings without dry-cleaners ("controls"). Exposure to perc was assessed by measurement of perc in air samples from participants' apartments, and in alveolar breath. Each subject received a complete eye examination. Vision assessment included determination of best-corrected visual acuity, contrast sensitivity (measured with the FACT sinusoidal grating chart), and color vision (assessed using the Farnsworth D-15 panel and the L'Anthony Desaturated 15-Hue test). Results: 40 exposed and 23 control households have so far completed this ongoing study. Elevated perc levels (>5 µg/m3) were more frequent in households co-located with dry-cleaners (Fisher Exact p=0.0003). Geometric mean perc level was 19 µg/m3 (range: 0.6-400 µg/m3) in exposed households, 3 µg/m3 (range: 0.8-92 µg/m3) in control households. Contrast sensitivities in exposed subjects did not differ significantly from controls. Although they fell within the published normal range, contrast sensitivities of residents of the 5 households with the highest perc levels (92-400 µg/m3) showed a slight reduction at the highest spatial frequency (Wilcoxon Rank-Sum test: adults, p=0.10; children p=0.08). Acuity and color vision were normal in exposed and control adults and children. Conclusions: These analyses reveal no statistically significant visual impairment in adults or children residing in buildings where dry-cleaners use perc on-site. Further data are needed to more completely assess the possibility of minimal visual impairment in households with the highest perc levels.
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