Ambient and at-the-ear occupational noise exposure and serum lipid levels
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Occupational and residential noise exposure has been related to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Alteration of serum lipid levels has been proposed as a possible causal pathway. The objective of this study was to investigate the relation between ambient and at-the-ear occupational noise exposure and serum levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein–cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein–cholesterol, and triglycerides when accounting for well-established predictors of lipid levels.
This cross-sectional study included 424 industrial workers and 84 financial workers to obtain contrast in noise exposure levels. They provided a serum sample and wore portable dosimeters that every 5-s recorded ambient noise exposure levels during a 24-h period. We extracted measurements obtained during work and calculated the full-shift mean ambient noise level. For 331 workers who kept a diary on the use of a hearing protection device (HPD), we subtracted 10 dB from every noise recording obtained during HPD use and estimated the mean full-shift noise exposure level at the ear.
Mean ambient noise level was 79.9 dB (A) [range 55.0–98.9] and the mean estimated level at the ear 77.8 dB (A) [range 55.0–94.2]. Ambient and at-the-ear noise levels were strongly associated with increasing levels of triglycerides, cholesterol–HDL ratio, and decreasing levels of HDL–cholesterol, but only in unadjusted analyses that did not account for HPD use and other risk factors.
No associations between ambient or at-the-ear occupational noise exposure and serum lipid levels were observed. This indicates that a causal pathway between occupational and residential noise exposure and cardiovascular disease does not include alteration of lipid levels.
KeywordsManufacturing industries Cardiovascular disease Causal pathways Hearing protective devices
Funding of this study was provided by the Danish Working Environment Research Fund (2008-0016245/3) and the Danish Working Environment Authority (20080038914). HK has received financial support from LO, the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions, and prepares specialists’ statements for the National Board of Occupational Injuries.
Arlien-Søborg MC and Schmedes AS contributed equally to this work as first authors. Stokholm ZA contributed with good advice and suggestions for improvement during the process. Kolstad HA acted as main supervisor. Grynderup MB contributed with statistical support when needed. Jensen CS was responsible for collecting data and contributed with practical help. Bonde JP, Hansen AM, Frederiksen TW, Kristiansen J, Christensen KL, Vestergaard JM, Lund SP all contributed with their expertise in the field and participated in meetings regarding the study.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.
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