Effects of sarin on the nervous system in rescue team staff members and police officers 3 years after the Tokyo subway sarin attack

Yuji Nishiwaki, Kazuhiko Maekawa, Yasutaka Ogawa, Nozomu Asukai, Masayasu Minami, Kazuyuki Omae, T. Yamaguchi, M. Hirata, M. Takahashi, M. Katsumata, Y. Sano, A. Imai, R. R. Chin, T. Saito

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117 Citations (Scopus)


Although the clinical manifestations of acute sarin poisoning have been reported in detail, no comprehensive study of the chronic physical and psychiatric effects of acute sarin poisoning has been carried out. To clarify the chronic effects of sarin on the nervous system, a cross-sectional epidemiologic study was conducted 3 years after the Tokyo subway sarin attack. Subjects consisted of the rescue team staff members and police officers who had worked at the disaster site. Subjects consisted of 56 male exposed subjects and 52 referent subjects matched for age and occupation. A neurobehavioral test, stabilometry, and measurement of vibration perception thresholds were performed, as well as psychometric tests to assess traumatic stress symptoms. The exposed group performed less well in the backward digit span test than the referent group in a dose-effect manner. This result was the same after controlling for possible confounding factors and was independent of traumatic stress symptoms. In other tests of memory function, except for the Benton visual retention test (mean correct answers), effects related to exposure were also suggested, although they were not statistically significant. In contrast, the dose-effect relationships observed in the neurobehavioral tests (psychomotor function) were unclear. None of the stabilometry and vibration perception threshold parameters had any relation to exposure. Our findings suggest the chronic decline of memory function 2 years and 10 months to 3 years and 9 months after exposure to sarin in the Tokyo subway attack, and further study is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1173
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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