This study aims to evaluate the effect of occupational exposure to noise and organic solvents on hearing loss in the aviation industry. The study population comprised 542 male workers, who worked in avionics jobs in Kimhae, Korea, who kept records of work environment evaluations and medical examinations. The Cumulative Exposure Index (CEI) was constructed to assess the lifetime cumulative exposure of the workers, and pure tone audiometry(PTA) data of the workers from their biannual medical surveillance was used to assess hearing loss. The prevalence of hearing loss found in the group exposed to noise and mixed solvents simultaneously (54.9%) was higher than those in the other groups (6.0% in the unexposed, 17.1% in the noise-only, and 27.8% in the exposed to only a solvents mixture). The relative risks, adjusted for age, were estimated to be 4.3 (95% CI 1.7-10.8) for the noise-only group, 8.1 (95% CI 2.0-32.5) for the noise and solvents group, and 2.6 (95% CI 0.6-10.3) for the solvents-mixture group. These suggest that chronic exposure to mixed solvents had a toxic effect on the auditory system. This raises the issue of whether hearing conservation regulations should be applied to all workers exposed to solvents.
- Cumulative exposure index
- Hearing Loss