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Scand Audiol. 1997;26(3):141-9.

Hearing loss from combined exposures among petroleum refinery workers.

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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Bioacoustics and Occupational Vibration Section, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.


Workers from a refinery (n = 438) were interviewed, had their hearing tested and had their exposures to noise and solvents assessed. Measurements suggested that most exposures to noise and solvents were within exposure limits recommended by international agencies; however, the prevalence for hearing loss within the exposed groups ranged from 42 to 50%, significantly exceeding the 15-30% prevalence observed for unexposed groups. The adjusted odds ratio estimates for hearing loss were 2.4 times greater for groups from aromatics and paraffins (95% CI 1.0-5.7), 3 times greater for the maintenance group (95% CI 1.3-6.9) and 1.8 times greater for the group from shipping (95% CI 0.6-4.9), when compared to unexposed workers from the warehouse and health clinic. The results of acoustic reflex decay tests suggest a retrocochlear or central auditory pathway involvement in the losses observed in certain job categories. These findings indicate that factors in addition to noise ought to be considered when investigating and preventing occupational hearing loss.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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