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Text Box: Knowledge from the Margins: Speaker & Abstract

“Climate on the        Margins: Climatology, the New Deal, and the Creation of Observer Farmers”


Carlson, Krystin, Neitzel, Rick: University of Michigan, Department of                 Environmental Health, & Basu, Niladri: McGill, Department of Natural Resources

Hearing loss (HL) is a debilitating disease with a profound impact on health and quality of life. While HL from noise has been recognized for hundreds of years, recent research has identified environmental and occupational exposure to non-essential heavy metals, including lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd), as potential causal agents of HL. Our study team worked with colleagues in the University of Ghana’s School of Public Health to assess metal and noise exposures in the Agbogbloshie electronic waste (e-waste) site in Accra, Ghana. With a collaborating Ghanaian MD and two public health graduate students from the University of Ghana, 57 workers were recruited at the e-waste location. At a clinic located near the e-waste site, each worked participated in audiometric testing, a physical exam, and blood collection. Average levels of blood Pb in participants were observed to be eight times the US adult average (mean = 97.2 ppb Pb). Average blood Cd was over seven times higher in our sample than the average in US nonsmoking adults (mean = 2.98 ppb Cd). Weak correlations between increasing blood Pb and Cd values were found to significantly associate with high frequency HL (Pb: Spearman’s rho = 0.286, p-value = 0.03; Cd: Spearman’s rho = 0.273, p-value = 0.04). Our study has characterized exposures of toxic metals and noise in a vulnerable population of e-waste workers. This global collaboration has resulted in an increased understanding of the relationships between heavy metals, noise, and HL.

“Hearing Loss in Heavy Metal Exposed         Ghanaian Electronic Waste Workers”