Two common metals, lead and cadmium, which are mostly used in electronics and batteries, may damage hearing, according to an extensive study of several thousand U.S. adults with different degrees of hearing loss.
Adults with the highest levels of lead and cadmium, either alone or together, experienced a drop in their hearing ability of 14-19%.
Hearing loss was also observed among people in the general population who exhibited common levels of metal concentration. Exposure to the two metals can occur from numerous sources such as paint, household dust, drinking water, air pollution and smoking.
These results could have implications for future emissions of lead and cadmium into the environment. According to the researchers, “the findings support efforts to reduce environmental cadmium and lead exposure to effectively prevent or delay hearing loss in the general population.”
The study does not reveal a causal connection between hearing loss and these common metals. However, it supports previous studies that have linked these aspects to one another.
About the study
3,698 adults between the ages of 20-69 years were examined in the study, in which researchers looked at the relationship between hearing loss and exposure to lead and cadmium.
The participants were already part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999-2004. While a hearing examination assessed the severity of hearing loss among the participants, lead and cadmium levels were measured in blood samples.