Central Auditory Processing Effects Induced by Solvent Exposure : International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health

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International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health


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Central Auditory Processing Effects Induced by Solvent Exposure

Adrian Fuente1 / Bradley McPherson1

Centre for Communication Disorders, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong1

This content is open access.

Citation Information: International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health. Volume 20, Issue 3, Pages 271–279, ISSN (Online) 1896-494X, ISSN (Print) 1232-1087, DOI: 10.2478/v10001-007-0030-4, October 2007

Publication History

Published Online:
2007-10-11

Central Auditory Processing Effects Induced by Solvent Exposure

Objectives: Various studies have demonstrated that organic solvent exposure may induce auditory damage. Studies conducted in workers occupationally exposed to solvents suggest, on the one hand, poorer hearing thresholds than in matched non-exposed workers, and on the other hand, central auditory damage due to solvent exposure. Taking into account the potential auditory damage induced by solvent exposure due to the neurotoxic properties of such substances, the present research aimed at studying the possible auditory processing disorder (APD), and possible hearing difficulties in daily life listening situations that solvent-exposed workers may acquire. Materials and Methods: Fifty workers exposed to a mixture of organic solvents (xylene, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone) and 50 non-exposed workers matched by age, gender and education were assessed. Only subjects with no history of ear infections, high blood pressure, kidney failure, metabolic and neurological diseases, or alcoholism were selected. The subjects had either normal hearing or sensorineural hearing loss, and normal tympanometric results. Hearing-in-noise (HINT), dichotic digit (DD), filtered speech (FS), pitch pattern sequence (PPS), and random gap detection (RGD) tests were carried out in the exposed and non-exposed groups. A self-report inventory of each subject's performance in daily life listening situations, the Amsterdam Inventory for Auditory Disability and Handicap, was also administered. Results: Significant threshold differences between exposed and non-exposed workers were found at some of the hearing test frequencies, for both ears. However, exposed workers still presented normal hearing thresholds as a group (equal or better than 20 dB HL). Also, for the HINT, DD, PPS, FS and RGD tests, non-exposed workers obtained better results than exposed workers. Finally, solvent-exposed workers reported significantly more hearing complaints in daily life listening situations than non-exposed workers. Conclusions: It is concluded that subjects exposed to solvents may acquire an APD and thus the sole use of pure-tone audiometry is insufficient to assess hearing in solvent-exposed populations.

Keywords: Auditory processing disorder; Dichotic tests; Filtered speech; Solvent exposure; Speech discrimination in noise

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