News & Events
June 18, 2015
Chemical exposure increases risk of hearing loss

Chemical exposure such as organic solvents and heavy metals is linked to an increased risk of hearing loss, a Korean study has found

Noise is known to cause hearing loss, but also chemical exposure can damage hearing or enhance the damage done by noise.

A Korean study has investigated the chemical exposure and its contributions to increased risk of hearing loss among industry workers in Korea. The results showed a clear link between workers who were exposed to chemical exposure and hearing loss. Workers exposed to noise were 1.64 times more likely to develop a hearing loss compared to unexposed individuals, while workers exposed to both noise and heavy metals and/or organic solvents were 2.15 times more likely to develop a hearing loss.

Chemical expose amplify the effect
In the study researchers examined over 30,000 workers across the Korean nation, including a range of industries who participated in the Korea National Occupational Health Surveillance 2009.

The researchers gathered information about the industry-based expose e.g. noise level, heavy metals, and organic solvents, but also information about the health of the individual worker e.g. audiometric examination to detect hearing loss.

According to the researchers, the findings are evidences that co-exposure to heavy metal and/or organic solvents amplify the effect of noise exposure on hearing loss. In other words, industry workers working with chemical exposure are in a greater risk of hearing loss.

About the study
The study was conducted by researchers from Gachon University Graduate School of Medicine and Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency in Korea.

It was published by National Center for Biotechnology Information in the U.S.