Jet fuel and hearing loss: a systematic review of impacts to the auditory system
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University of British Columbia, Canada
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1916
Background and Objective:
Globally, millions of people are exposed to ototoxic solvents at work, which can permanently damage their hearing. Jet fuel is a chemical mixture containing ototoxic solvents, and the exposure to jet fuel alone or with noise is associated with negative impacts to the auditory system. The International Ototoxicity Management Group’s (IOMG’s) Environmental and Occupational Exposures Focus Group is conducting a series of systematic reviews on solvent ototoxicity. IOMG plans to issue international occupational health guidance to facilitate improved protections and hearing health management for ototoxic exposures. The objective of this systematic review is to synthesize observed ototoxic effects of jet fuel exposures and discuss the translation of these findings to occupational health.

A systematic review on auditory outcomes of animals following jet fuel exposures was conducted using the Medline and Embase databases. All available articles were screened, then full text reviews were conducted in those matching the inclusion criteria.

A total of 952 abstracts were screened and reviewed to synthesize relevant findings. Significant impairment of auditory outer hair cell function was demonstrated in three key studies. Further, two key studies also found that jet fuel exposures caused central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). One study suggested oxidative stress as a potential mechanism for hearing loss caused by jet fuel, with findings demonstrating significant increases in liver glutathione concentrations.

This review summarizes evidence demonstrating jet fuel as a potential hazard to worker’s hearing. Those exposed to jet fuel may exhibit normal auditory sensitivity, yet develop brainstem dysfunctions resulting in auditory or non-auditory symptoms, such as CAPD, which may be missed during routine occupational audiometric assessments. Ultimately, more research is needed on hearing outcomes following jet fuel exposure, in both animals and humans, to improve guidance for protecting worker’s auditory health.

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