Objective: To estimate hearing loss, neurobehavioral function, and neurotransmitter alteration induced by ethylbenzene in petrochemical workers.
Methods: From two petrochemical plants, 246 and 307 workers exposed to both ethylbenzene and noise were recruited—290 workers exposed to noise only from a power station plant and 327 office personnel as control group, respectively. Hearing and neurobehavioral functions were evaluated. Serum neurotransmitters were also determined.
Results: The prevalence of hearing loss was much higher in petrochemical groups than that in power station and control groups (P < 0.05). Compared with the control group, scores of neurobehavioral function reflecting learning and memory were decreased in petrochemical workers (P < 0.05), as well as acetylcholinesterase activity. Negative correlation was shown between neurobehavioral function and acetylcholinesterase.
Conclusions: Ethylbenzene exposure might be associated with hearing loss, neurobehavioral function impairment, and imbalance of neurotransmitters.