Although noise is the predominant source of work-related hearing loss, recent evidence has demonstrated that chemical toxicants can also cause hearing loss and enhance sensitivity to noise. The adverse auditory effects of chemical toxicants have been investigated more systematically during the past two decades, both in animal and human field and clinical studies. Existing evidence has prompted the proposal of new guidelines and standards on hearing loss prevention. In the U.S., the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has discussed specific research needs regarding the ototoxicity of chemicals used at work. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists and the U.S. Army have proposed preliminary practical steps that employers and occupational health professionals can take to improve hearing loss prevention. Australia and New Zealand have developed standard AS/NZS 1269:2005, recommending hearing tests for workers exposed to ototoxic agents. In the legislative arena, the European Parliament published a new noise directive (2003/ 10/EC), to be adopted by all participants' countries. This Directive requires employers to give attention to any effects on workers' health and safety resulting from interactions between noise and work-related ototoxic substances, when performing risk assessment of workplaces. Legislation regarding compensation has also changed in Australia (Workcover Guides for the Evaluation of Hearing Impaired, June 2002) and Brazil (Decree 3048, May 6, 1999). A new concept of creating an ototoxicity notation has been proposed. This presentation will examine the recent guidelines and legislative developments and discuss alternative strategies for preventing auditory effects of exposure to ototoxic chemicals. Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions in this abstract have not been formally disseminated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.
Audiological-testing; Auditory-nerve; Auditory-system; Chemical-hypersensitivity; Chemical-reactions; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-levels; Exposure-methods; Hearing-loss; Injury-prevention; Noise-exposure; Noise-levels; Noise-sources; Ototoxicity; Risk-factors; Safety-practices; Safety-research; Standards; Toxic-effects; Toxic-materials; Toxicology; Toxic-vapors; Toxins