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High toluene exposure risk increases risk of olfactory dysfunction in furniture workers

Magdalena Wartono, Herkutanto Herkutanto, Niken Lestari
Submission date: Tuesday, 01 December 2015
Published date: Friday, 26 February 2016
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18051/UnivMed.2015.v34.68-76

Abstract


BACKGROUND
Few studies have investigated the impact on olfactory functioning of
occupational exposure to toluene, an industrial solvent used in paints and
cleaning fluids. The estimated olfactory dysfunction prevalence is 0.5–
5%. Patients frequently do not complain about olfactory dysfunction.
However, occupational exposure to chemicals may affect workers’ health
and safety, because of their continuous inhalation. This study aimed to
examine the relationship between toluene exposure and olfactory
dysfunction in furniture workers.
METHODS
This was a cross-sectional study involving 65 workers. Data collection
was by observation and interview on demographic characteristics, history
of habits, and symptoms of chronic rhinitis. Risk of exposure scores were
evaluated from potential hazard, exposure level, duration of employment,
type of work, use of masks, ventilation of work space, and education and
training. Olfactory function was tested using Sniffin’ Sticks, and
determination of environmental toluene level was by personal sampling.
The odds ratio was used to test correlations between variables.
RESULTS
Only 44 subjects could be analyzed, 37 (84.1%) of whom had olfactory
dysfunction. Workers with high toluene exposure had a significantly 12.5-
fold risk of olfactory dysfunction in comparison with those with low
exposure (OR=12.5; CI 95% 1.35 – 115.79).
CONCLUSIONS
Toluene exposure increases risk of olfactory dysfunction in furniture
workers. Olfactory function testing should be considered for initial
screening or periodic testing of furniture workers. Low toluene levels with
a high proportion of olfactory dysfunction indicate that olfactory dysfunction
is an early negative impact of chemical inhalation.

Keywords


Olfactory dysfunction; toluene; sniffin sticks; furniture workers

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References


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