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

Main Article Content

Magdalena Wartono
Herkutanto Herkutanto
Niken Lestari


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.
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.
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).
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.

Article Details

How to Cite
Wartono, M., Herkutanto, H., & Lestari, N. (2015). High toluene exposure risk increases risk of olfactory dysfunction in furniture workers. Universa Medicina, 34(1), 68–76. https://doi.org/10.18051/UnivMed.2015.v34.68-76
Review Article
Author Biographies

Magdalena Wartono, Trisakti University

Department of anatomy, Faculty of Medicine

Herkutanto Herkutanto, University of Indonesia

Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine

Niken Lestari, National General Hospital Cipto mangunkusumo

Department of Allergy and Immunology, Department of



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