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Background Chemical substances can negatively affect the auditory system. Chemical substances alone or combined with high-level noise have recently become a major concern as a cause of occupational hearing loss.Objective To assess the combined effect of solvents and noise versus solvents only, or noise only, on the auditory function of workers.Method Published articles which included noise and/or solvent exposure or combined effects of solvents and noise, studies conducted on human beings only and the use of audiological tests on participants.Results Thirteen papers were eligible for inclusion. The participants' ages ranged from 18 to 68 years. Results revealed that 24.5% presented with hearing loss as a result of noise exposure only; 18% presented with hearing loss owing to solvent exposure only; and a total of 43.3% presented with hearing loss owing to combined noise and solvent exposure. Furthermore, the prevalence of hearing loss in the noise and solvent group was significantly (p < 0.001) higher than the other groups in 10 out of the 13 studies analysed, with a pooled odds ratio (OR) of 2.754. Of the 178 participants (total of all participants exposed to solvents), a total of 32 participants presented with auditory pathology as a result of exposure to solvents only. There was a significantly higher pooled odds of hearing loss in noise and solvent-exposed group compared to solvent-only group (pooled OR = 2.15, 95% CI: 1.24-3.72, p = 0.006).Conclusion The findings revealed significantly higher odds of acquiring hearing loss when workers were exposed to a combination of solvents and noise as opposed to solvents only, motivating for its inclusion into hearing conservation programmes.

Original publication





The South African journal of communication disorders = Die Suid-Afrikaanse tydskrif vir Kommunikasieafwykings

Publication Date





e1 - e11


Discipline of Audiology, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.


Humans, Hearing Loss, Occupational Diseases, Solvents, Hearing, Noise, Occupational Exposure, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Young Adult