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October 21, 2004

Work noise and gunshot blasts most damaging

Noise exposure in the workplace and leisure gunshot blasts cause much hearing loss, according to a comprehensive survey, conducted in Norway.

More than 50,000 adults over the age of 19 were screened for hearing loss and questioned about noise in their daily lives.

Hunters using shotguns and rifles are particularly susceptible to hearing loss. The survey found clear effects of impulse noise, which in the area of Norway covered by the survey, mostly stems from gun blasts. Sixteen percent of the men were exposed to this kind of noise, and among those, the average loss of high frequency hearing was 7.9 dB in the 45 to 64 age group.

Noise in the workplace is also damaging, again mostly among men, according to the survey results. Among the 10 percent of the men who had the highest exposure to work noise, the average hearing loss was measured to be 3-10 dB. Hardest hit across the board were men over the age of 45 in the construction industry, with an average high frequency hearing loss of 2.2 dB.

The researchers further investigated other conditions affecting the hearing ability and found that head trauma and repeated ear infections also increase the risk of hearing problems.

Source: Hørselstap forårsaket av støy, ørebetennelser og hodeskader, Medisin og Vitenskab, no. 21, 2003, og HearingLlossIinduced by Noise, Ear Infections, and Head Injuries: Results From the Nord-Trøndelag Hearing Loss Study, International Journal of Audiology, no. 42, 2003.

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