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Noise and chemicals: Workers are losing their hearing
Date:9/28/2010

A study carried out by Spanish researchers has shown that the presence of chemical contaminants can interact with noise and modify, for good or for bad, the way in which work-related "deafness" which is increasingly common among young people manifests itself. Noise-related hearing loss is the most common occupational disease in Europe.

"Workers exposed to noise in the presence of metalworking fluids exhibit a delay in hearing alteration in comparison with those exposed only to noise at the same intensity. However, those exposed to noise in the presence of welding fumes experience increased hearing alteration", Juan Carlos Conte, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Zaragoza, tells SINC.

In the study, published in Anales del Sistema Sanitario de Navarra, the team analysed the way in which various physical and chemical contaminants interact, and the impact this had on hearing alteration in 558 metal workers

"A problem we detected with respect to welding fumes in the presence of noise was that the protection used is effective for reducing the intensity of noise, but not for reducing the effects of the chemical contaminant", Conte explains.

Cellulose masks or others made of similar compounds have little effect in this case, since their capacity to filter particles (such as charcoal) has no effect on toxic gas molecules (such as carbon monoxide).

However, in noisy atmospheres with metalworking fluids, people have the advantage of being able to use masks as respiratory protection, although the ear protection must be used in the same way to ensure that a person is comprehensively protected from noise.

The researchers point to other factors in work-related hearing loss. For example, tobacco contributes to the acquisition of initial acoustic trauma, while exposure to noise outside the work environment also impacts on advanced acoustic injury.

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Contact: SINC
info@plataformasinc.es
34-914-251-820
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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