Diseases Caused by Carbon Disulfide

1. Introduction and Definitions

Carbon disulfide (CS2) is a colorless, volatile liquid with a sweet odor when pure, though industrial carbon disulfide often has a foul smell due to impurities. It is widely used in the manufacturing of viscose rayon, cellophane, and rubber, as well as in various chemical processes. Prolonged exposure to carbon disulfide can lead to severe health issues, affecting the nervous, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. This article aims to provide comprehensive information on diseases caused by carbon disulfide, targeting occupational health nurses and doctors.

2. Agent Causes the Disease

Carbon disulfide exposure occurs primarily through inhalation of its vapors in occupational settings. It can also be absorbed through the skin or ingested in contaminated food or water. Once in the body, carbon disulfide can affect multiple organ systems, causing a range of acute and chronic health effects.

3. Workers at Risk of This Disease

Several occupations and tasks put workers at higher risk of carbon disulfide exposure, including:

  • Textile Workers: Involved in the production of viscose rayon and cellophane.
  • Rubber Manufacturing Workers: Using carbon disulfide in the production of rubber and rubber goods.
  • Chemical Industry Workers: Handling carbon disulfide in various chemical processes.
  • Laboratory Workers: Using carbon disulfide as a solvent or reagent.
  • Pesticide Production Workers: Involved in the manufacture of pesticides that contain carbon disulfide.
  • Oil and Gas Industry Workers: Exposed to carbon disulfide as a byproduct of certain extraction and refining processes.

4. Symptoms

Symptoms of carbon disulfide-related diseases can vary depending on the level and duration of exposure:

  • Acute Exposure: Symptoms include headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract. High levels of exposure can lead to unconsciousness and even death.
  • Chronic Exposure: Long-term exposure can cause neuropsychiatric effects such as mood changes, irritability, memory loss, and cognitive impairment. It can also lead to cardiovascular problems, including hypertension and atherosclerosis, as well as reproductive issues like decreased libido and menstrual disturbances.

5. Diagnosis

Diagnosing carbon disulfide-related diseases involves a combination of clinical evaluation, occupational exposure assessment, and specific tests:

  • Medical History and Physical Examination: Detailed assessment of the patient's work history and symptoms.
  • Neurological Evaluation: Including tests for motor function, cognitive abilities, and psychological state.
  • Cardiovascular Assessment: Monitoring blood pressure and conducting ECGs to detect cardiovascular abnormalities.
  • Blood and Urine Tests: Measuring levels of carbon disulfide metabolites to assess exposure.
  • Neuropsychological Tests: To evaluate cognitive and psychological effects.

6. Treatment

Treatment for carbon disulfide-related diseases focuses on managing symptoms and preventing further exposure:

  • Remove from Exposure: Immediate removal from the source of carbon disulfide exposure is crucial.
  • Symptomatic Treatment: Providing medications to manage neurological, cardiovascular, and reproductive symptoms. This may include antihypertensives, sedatives, and therapies for cognitive and mood disorders.
  • Supportive Care: Including oxygen therapy for respiratory issues and physical therapy for neurological symptoms.
  • Psychological Support: Counseling and therapy for mood and cognitive disturbances.
  • Long-term Monitoring: Regular follow-up to monitor neurological and cardiovascular function and overall health status.

7. Prevention

Preventing carbon disulfide-related diseases involves implementing strict control measures in the workplace:

  • Engineering Controls: Using local exhaust ventilation, enclosed processes, and proper maintenance of equipment to reduce airborne carbon disulfide.
  • Work Practices: Implementing safe work practices such as proper handling and disposal of carbon disulfide-containing materials, and avoiding eating, drinking, or smoking in areas where carbon disulfide is used.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Providing and ensuring the use of appropriate respirators, protective clothing, and gloves.
  • Health Surveillance: Regular health screenings, including neurological and cardiovascular assessments for workers exposed to carbon disulfide.
  • Education and Training: Informing workers about the hazards of carbon disulfide and safe work practices to minimize exposure.

By understanding the risks associated with carbon disulfide exposure and implementing effective preventive measures, occupational health professionals can significantly reduce the incidence of carbon disulfide-related diseases and enhance the overall well-being of workers.

Workplace Exposure Limits:

  • OSHA PEL (Occupational Safety and Health Administration):

    • 8-hour Time Weighted Average (TWA): 20 ppm
    • Short-Term Exposure Limit (STEL): 30 ppm
    • Ceiling: 100 ppm (maximum peak concentration above the acceptable ceiling, not to be exceeded during any 30-minute work period)
  • NIOSH REL (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health):

    • Up to 10-hour TWA (ST): 1 ppm (3 mg/m³)
    • STEL ©: 10 ppm (30 mg/m³)
  • ACGIH TLV® (American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists):