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Noise Health. 2013 Nov-Dec;15(67):379-87. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.121224.

Evaluation of the effects of exposure to organic solvents and hazardous noise among US Air Force Reserve personnel.

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Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, The George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services, Washington DC, USA.


Hearing loss affects many workers including those in the military and may be caused by noise, medications, and chemicals. Exposures to some chemicals may lead to an increase in the incidence of hearing loss when combined with hazardous noise. This retrospective study evaluated the risk for hearing loss among Air Force Reserve personnel exposed to occupational noise with and without exposures to toluene, styrene, xylene, benzene, and JP-8 (jet fuel). Risk factors associated with hearing loss were determined using logistic and linear regression. Stratified analysis was used to evaluate potential interaction between solvent and noise exposure. The majority of the subjects were male (94.6%) and 35 years or older on the date of their first study audiogram (66%). Followed for an average of 3.2 years, 9.2% of the study subjects had hearing loss in at least one ear. Increasing age (odds ratio [OR] = 1.03 per year of age) and each year of follow-up time (OR = 1.23) were significantly associated with hearing loss. Low and moderate solvent exposures were not associated with hearing loss. Linear regression demonstrated that hearing loss was significantly associated with age at first study audiogram, length of follow-up time, and exposure to noise. Hearing decreased by 0.04 decibels for every decibel increase in noise level or by almost half a decibel (0.4 dB) for every 10 decibel increase in noise level.

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