Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Nerve Problems

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HealthWiki > A Community Guide to Environmental Health > Chapter 16: Harm from Toxic Chemicals > Nerve Problems


Many toxic chemicals harm our nervous systems. Harm to the nerves can cause confusion, memory loss, seizures (fits), and other problems with the brain. Nerve damage can also lead to damage to taste and smell, loss of feeling in the body, and difficulty balancing and walking. Some chemicals can cause paralysis or even death. Solvents commonly used for cleaning grease, such as acetone, benzene, turpentine, and gasoline, are toxic to the nervous system.

A pregnant woman lies shaking on the ground next to an overturned chair and a container of solvent.

Prevention and treatment

The best way to prevent harm to the nervous system from toxics is to reduce their use at work and in the home. If you must use them, make sure there is good ventilation and use gloves and masks.


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