Association of Organic Solvents and Occupational Noise on Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Among Adults in the US, 1999-2004

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International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health





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Purpose: Exposure to organic solvents and noise may be causal agents in the development of hearing loss and tinnitus. The objectives of the present study were to examine the association of organic solvents with hearing loss and tinnitus and to assess the interaction of organic solvent and occupational noise exposure on hearing loss and tinnitus. Methods: A secondary data analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and Occupational Information Network (O*NET) among a study population ranging from 1085 to 2471 study participants from 1999 to 2004. Multiple multivariate logistic regression models were used to assess the associations of individual organic solvent exposures as measured by blood biomarkers (1,4-dichlorobenzene, benzene, ethylbenzene, styrene, toluene, o-xylene, and m-/p-xylene) with self-reported hearing loss, audiometrically assessed hearing loss, and self-reported tinnitus. Models were adjusted for age, gender, race/ethnicity, diabetes, non-occupational noise exposure, smoking, and income. Organic solvents found to be statistically significantly associated with the outcome after adjusting for covariates were tested for interaction with occupational noise exposure. Results: Solvent exposure was not statistically significantly associated with self-reported tinnitus. Benzene (OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.15–1.78), ethylbenzene (OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.02–1.50), and toluene (OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.06–1.52) concentrations were statistically significantly associated with increased adjusted odds of high-frequency hearing loss. No statistically significant interaction was observed between these solvents and occupational noise on high-frequency hearing loss. Conclusions: We found no evidence of an association between organic solvents and tinnitus; however, there was evidence of an association between organic solvent exposure and prevalence of high-frequency hearing loss.


Blood biomarkers; Hearing loss; NHANES; Occupational noise; Organic solvents; Tinnitus


Biostatistics | Environmental Health | Epidemiology | Speech and Hearing Science



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