The effects of simultaneous occupational exposure to noise and ototoxic organic solvents were reviewed. Five organic solvents reported as ototoxic were carbon-disulfide (75150) (CS2), toluene (108883), styrene (100425), xylene (1330207), and trichloroethylene (79016) (TCE). Industries where exposure to the selected agent occurred were listed by economic sector. The percentage of employees exposed to the selected chemicals was indicated, and the industry category with the greatest exposure to a particular agent was indicated. About 5 million workers in American industry were estimated to be exposed to the five reviewed chemicals. Of these the majority were exposed to xylene (2,145,039) and toluene (2,015,881). More than 400,000 workers were estimated to be exposed to TCE, and more than 300,000 to CS2. Noise exposure was usually present whenever exposure to these chemicals occurred. The interaction between noise and solvents made the population at risk for developing hearing impairments. Despite the large number of workers exposed to ototoxic chemicals in the presence of background noise few are required to have regular hearing tests as the noise exposure may not exceed the regulatory guidelines. The authors conclude that current hearing conservation practices do not meet the needs of this population of workers.
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