Camelford water poisoning accident: serial neuropsychological assessments and further observations on bone aluminium.
McMillan TM., Freemont AJ., Herxheimer A., Denton J., Taylor AP., Pazianas M., Cummin AR., Eastwood JB.
The serial cognitive assessment of ten individuals made between 8 and 26 months after the water at Camelford in Cornwall was accidentally contaminated with aluminium sulphate, showed consistent evidence of impairment of information processing and memory. There was no obvious relationship between these impairments and measurements of anxiety and depression. Serial bone biopsies in two individuals showed that the aluminium which was present 6 and 7 months after the accident had disappeared by 19 months. In the eight individuals biopsied 12-17 months after the accident the bone showed no stainable aluminium. Thus, aluminium deposited in the bone of normal individuals can disappear within 18 months. After an accident such as that at Camelford important evidence of toxicity is likely to be missed if an investigation is delayed. The abnormal neuropsychological findings indicate cognitive impairment, but whether this was caused by an acute episode of brain damage, or other causes such as the psychological effects of stress resulting from the accident, is uncertain.