Leisure noise causes hearing loss

The noise from power tools and leisure pursuits such as wood and metal work or cruising on a motorcycle increase the risk of hearing damage.

People who often participate in leisure activities with average noise levels above 90 dB increase their risk of suffering hearing loss by 10%, according to a study published in the periodical, Audiology, 2001. Certain activities bring an increase in risk of 30%.

The study is the first population based study examining the effects of leisure time noise exposure.

The study was conducted in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin in the years 1993 to 1995 among 3.571 individuals aged 48 to 92. Its main objective was to determine the relationship between age and hearing loss. At the same time, however, data was collected about present and past leisure activities, jobs and the hearing related medical history of the study participants.

Statistical tests identified leisure-time noise exposure as an independent risk factor in hearing loss.

Noise has long been recognized as a risk factor in hearing loss, but most major studies have focused on the relationship between occupational exposure to noise and hearing loss. Due to the increased emphasis on hearing conservation programs by industries and changes in the labor market towards more service oriented jobs, the researchers believe that leisure noise will grow in importance in the future.

Source: Audiology 2001; 40: 1-19

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