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Effect of noise and solvents on hearing and its impact on the practice of industrial hygiene.

Morata T; Franks J
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 19-23, 1997, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1997 May; :58
Increasing attention is being given to a holistic approach to studying the workplace as a combination of physical, chemical, biological, and organizational factors that impact workers' health and welfare. This approach includes initiatives to investigate the combined effects of occupational exposure to noise and other factors on hearing. In particular, the potential interaction between noise and chemicals poses a new challenge to investigators, industrial hygienists, and hearing conservationists. NIOSH has conducted three epidemiologic studies on the effects of solvents on hearing, alone or in combination with a noise. These cross-sectional studies were conducted at printing facilities, a paint manufacturing facility, and at an oil refinery. Audiometric thresholds were compared with ISO 1999 estimates, and the prevalence, risk ratios, and predicted probability of developing a hearing loss from different variables were calculated. In all of the investigations, solvent mixtures which had toluene as a main component were found to affect the hearing of workers exposed to low noise levels. In light of the multiplicity of chemicals that are used occupationally and evidence that they may affect hearing, it is conceivable that numerous populations are being under served with regard to hearing loss prevention. The observed effects may have serious implications for industrial hygiene, since the permissible exposure levels for chemicals do not consider their potentiation of hearing loss. Workers who are exposed to noise levels below 85 dBA time-weighted average are not required to be included in hearing conservation programs. Furthermore, methods currently used in hearing conservation (e.g., hearing protectors and noise control) may be insufficient, or even inappropriate, for workers exposed to both chemicals and noise.
Workplace-studies; Occupational-exposure; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Noise; Noise-exposure; Noise-levels; Noise-pollution; Noise-sources; Hearing; Industrial-hygiene; Epidemiology; Statistical-analysis; Solvents; Paint-manufacturing-industry; Printing-industry; Oil-refineries; Risk-factors; Toluenes; Chemical-properties; Hearing-conservation; Hearing-protection; Noise-protection; Noise-shielding; Noise-control
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 19-23, 1997, Dallas, Texas
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division