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Arch Environ Health. 1991 Sep-Oct;46(5):300-5.

Lead and minor hearing impairment.

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Office of Policy Analysis, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.


We examined data recorded for 3,545 subjects aged 6-19 y who participated in the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Survey. We sought to confirm a relationship between blood lead levels and elevated hearing thresholds that we previously reported in a similar study in which data from the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was used. Lead was associated with an increased risk of hearing thresholds that were elevated above the standard reference level at all four frequencies (i.e., 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, 2,000 Hz, and 4,000 Hz). Lead was also associated with hearing thresholds when they were treated as a continuous outcome. The relationships appeared to continue at blood lead levels less than 10 micrograms/dl. An increase in blood lead, from 6 micrograms/dl to 18 micrograms/dl, was associated with a 2-dB loss in hearing at all frequencies, and an additional 15% of children had hearing thresholds that were below the standard at 2,000 Hz.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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