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Open Access Research article

Auditory dysfunction associated with solvent exposure

Adrian Fuente1*, Bradley McPherson2 and Louise Hickson1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. The University of Queensland, Room 825, Level 8, Therapies Building (No 84A), St Lucia, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia

2 Centre for Communication Disorders. The University of Hong Kong, 5/F Prince Philip Dental Hospital, 34 Hospital Road, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, China

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:39  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-39

Published: 16 January 2013



A number of studies have demonstrated that solvents may induce auditory dysfunction. However, there is still little knowledge regarding the main signs and symptoms of solvent-induced hearing loss (SIHL). The aim of this research was to investigate the association between solvent exposure and adverse effects on peripheral and central auditory functioning with a comprehensive audiological test battery.


Seventy-two solvent-exposed workers and 72 non-exposed workers were selected to participate in the study. The test battery comprised pure-tone audiometry (PTA), transient evoked otoacoustic emissions (TEOAE), Random Gap Detection (RGD) and Hearing-in-Noise test (HINT).


Solvent-exposed subjects presented with poorer mean test results than non-exposed subjects. A bivariate and multivariate linear regression model analysis was performed. One model for each auditory outcome (PTA, TEOAE, RGD and HINT) was independently constructed. For all of the models solvent exposure was significantly associated with the auditory outcome. Age also appeared significantly associated with some auditory outcomes.


This study provides further evidence of the possible adverse effect of solvents on the peripheral and central auditory functioning. A discussion of these effects and the utility of selected hearing tests to assess SIHL is addressed.

Assessment; Hearing loss; Solvents; Temporal resolution