The Relationship between Occupational Exposure to Lead and Hearing Loss in a Cross-Sectional Survey of Iranian Workers

Masoumeh Ghiasvand, Saber Mohammadi, Brett Roth, Mostafa Ranjbar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objectives: Ototoxic effect of exposure to lead has been reported by many researchers. This study was undertaken with a view to investigate the relationship between blood lead level (BLL) and hearing loss in workers in a lead-acid battery manufacturing plant in Tehran, Iran. Methods: In a cross-sectional study, 609 male workers were recruited from different locations in the factory. Association between BLL and hearing loss in different frequencies were measured. Relationships were analyzed by logistic regressions. Statistical significance was defined as p-value <0.05. Results: Six hundred nine male workers with mean age 40 ± 7 years and mean noise exposure level of 80 (75–85) dB were evaluated. BLLs were categorized into four quartiles, and hearing loss in each quartile was compared to the first one. In our regression models, BLL was associated significantly with high frequency hearing loss, adjusted odds ratios for the comparison of the fourth, third, and second quartiles to the first one are respectively: 3.98 (95% CI: 1.63–9.71, p < 0.00), 3.05 (95% CI: 1.28–7.26, p < 0.01), and 2.89 (95% CI: 1.11–7.51, p < 0.03). Conclusion: This study showed a dose–response relationship between BLL and hearing loss, after adjusting for potential confounders (age, body mass index, work duration, smoking, and occupational noise exposure) in logistic regressions. It is concluded that periodic hearing assessment by pure tone audiometry in workers exposed to lead should be recommended. However, additional studies are required to clarify the mechanisms of lead ototoxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
StatePublished - Feb 16 2016


  • blood lead level
  • hearing loss
  • lead ototoxicity
  • pure tone audiometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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