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Collecting Data on Worker Hearing Loss: Epidemiology in Action

Categories: Epidemiology, Hearing Loss, Safety and Health Data

Epidemiology is the art and science of using data to answer questions about the health of groups. In occupational epidemiology, we use that data to understand how work affects health.  This blog entry is part of a series that shares the stories behind the data.

Hearing loss is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the United States. Among older adults, it is third after high blood pressure and arthritis. Nearly 1 in 4 cases of hearing loss among workers is caused by exposures on the job. These exposures include loud noise and chemicals that can damage hearing, such as organic solvents, heavy metals and asphyxiants.

First, Do No Harm: Temporary Threshold Shift Screening Is Not Worth the Risk

Categories: Hearing Loss, Manufacturing

 

Recently, a study by Dr. Hanns Moshammer and colleagues on “The Early Prognosis of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss” garnered national media attention.[1] Their research, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, [2] recommended routine implementation of a temporary threshold shift (TTS) screening test to identify workers particularly at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) from occupational exposure to hazardous noise. NIHL is one of the most common work-related conditions in the United States. Susceptibility to NIHL varies across individuals, but unfortunately, no methods are available to predict risk for a particular worker.

Buy Quiet Update

Categories: Engineering Control, Hearing Loss, Manufacturing, Prevention Through Design

buyquietSeveral years ago NIOSH started the planning process for a “buy quiet” initiative to encourage companies to purchase or rent quieter machinery and tools to reduce worker noise exposure. This initiative also aimed to provide information on equipment noise levels and promote manufacturers to design quieter equipment. NIOSH is now pleased to announce the official launch of our Buy Quiet web resources, complete with a website and educational materials. The new, easy to use materials highlight the benefits of a Buy Quiet program, explain how to establish a program in a workplace, and provide additional resources for finding quieter tools and machinery.

Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common work-related illness in the United States. Each year, approximately 22 million U.S. workers encounter noise exposures loud enough to be potentially hazardous. Buy Quiet can play an important role in protecting workers from these dangerous noise levels.

So How Accurate Are These Smartphone Sound Measurement Apps?

Categories: Hearing Loss, Technology

Figure 1. The SoundMeter app on the iPhone 5 (L) and iPhone 4S (R) compared to ½” Larson-Davis 2559 random incidence type 1 microphone (C).

As of June 2013, 60% of all mobile subscribers use smartphones—that’s more than 140 million devices. Apple iOS and Google Android platforms account for 93% of those devices [Nielsen, 2013]. Smartphone developers now offer many sound measurement applications (apps) using the devices’ built-in microphone (or through an external microphone for more sophisticated applications). The use of smartphone sound measurement apps can have a tremendous and far-reaching impact in the areas of noise research and noise control in the workplace as every smartphone can be potentially turned into a dosimeter or a sound level meter

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