Occupational exposure to ototoxicants, substances that can cause hearing loss or exacerbate the impact of noise exposure, is a workplace hazard that is not well understood. Existing research generally agrees that some solvents and heavy metals may be ototoxic, but few studies have attempted to establish the impact of exposure to ototoxicants in the workplace. This study examined trends in workplace exposure to ototoxicants among workers in the United States by comparing exposure data collected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration against worker hearing loss data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2012 through 2019. The study found that the noise exposure data was strongly correlated to the hearing loss data using Pearson's correlation (p < .001), confirming that the analysis was reliable. A chi-square analysis of the data, when sorted by year and industry subsector (using the three-digit National American Industry Classification System code), found that industry subsectors with exposure to ototoxicants were more likely to exhibit hearing loss than those without exposure to ototoxicants in 6 years out of the 8-year period (p < .05). These findings suggest that workers with coexposure to ototoxicants and noise may be at a higher risk of experiencing hearing loss, and action should be taken to minimize this risk.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Ototoxic agents--Research; Industrial hygiene--Research--United States; Deafness--Research--United States

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Environmental, Health and Safety Management (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Civil Engineering Technology Environmental Management and Safety (CET)


Jennifer Schneider

Advisor/Committee Member

Grant Esler

Advisor/Committee Member

Joseph Rosenbeck


This thesis has been embargoed. The full-text will be available on or around 5/10/2024.


RIT – Main Campus

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