19 out of 20 workers in the Indian cotton ginning industry have a hearing loss, an Indian study has shown. 96% have a binaural hearing loss above 25 dB at low frequencies, 97% have a binaural hearing loss above 25 dB at mid-frequencies and 94% have a binaural hearing loss above 25 dB at high frequencies.
The cotton ginning workers were exposed to continuous noise levels between 89 and 106 dB. Many countries recommend an average daily exposure to noise of less than 85 dB.
The study measured the hearing ability of the ginning workers by pure tone audiometry and estimated typical sound levels prevailing in the workplace environment and its effects on the hearing ability of the exposed workers. The data generated during the study shows that hearing loss is significantly associated with the period of exposure to the workplace noise.
Ear protection and better maintenance
The researchers recommend compulsory use of personal protective equipment like ear plug by the cotton ginning workers in the workplace. Regular maintenance of ginning and pressing machinery will also eliminate the emissions of excessive noise in the workplace environment.
The data, based on self-reported health status, was collected by a questionnaire survey at 10 cotton ginning factories located at Jalgaon district of Maharashtra state, India.