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Chemical exposure as a risk factor for hearing loss: implications for occupational health.

Morata T
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 8-13, 2004, Atlanta, Georgia. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2004 May; :27
The occupational health community is giving increasing attention to the combined effects of occupational exposure to noise and other factors on hearing. In particular, the interaction between noise and chemicals such as toluene, styrene, and carbon monoxide, poses a new challenge to industrial hygienists and hearing conservationists. NIOSH has conducted epidemiological studies on the effects of solvents on hearing, alone or in combination with noise. In all of the investigations, solvents were found to affect the hearing of workers. In light of the many chemicals that are used in the work place and evidence that they may affect hearing, numerous populations are being underserved with regard to the prevention of hearing loss. Permissible exposure levels for chemicals do not account for the chemicals' effects on hearing loss. Thus, workers who are exposed to noise levels below 85-dBA time-weighted average who are not required to be in included hearing conservation programs may still be at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to these chemicals. Furthermore, methods currently used in hearing conservation (e.g., hearing protectors and noise control) may be ineffective, or even inappropriate, for workers exposed to both chemicals and noise. This presentation will review the current knowledge of chemical ototoxicity and the NIOSH strategy for partnering with industry, academia, and professional organizations interested in preventing occupational hearing loss. Key issues to be addressed in this strategy include: rationale and proposal of consensus list for priority chemicals, methods for evaluating exposures of concern for workers and appropriate biomarkers, methods for assessing auditory effects of chemicals, inclusion criteria in prevention programs and appropriate components of such programs, and finally, the need for information dissemination.
Risk-factors; Hearing-loss; Occupational-health; Occupational-exposure; Noise-exposure; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Toluenes; Styrenes; Industrial-hygienists; Epidemiology; Solvents
108-88-3; 100-42-5; 630-08-0
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Hearing Loss
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 8-13, 2004, Atlanta, Georgia
Page last reviewed: August 26, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division