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Hearing Loss

Fire fighters are exposed to many hazards during the course of their job, including noise. NIOSH recommends workplace noise exposures not exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 dBA (based on a 3-dB exchange rate). Using these guidelines, we published a revised criteria document to prevent occupational hearing loss, Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Noise Exposure. [PDF 4340 KB, 122 pages] Routine fire fighting tasks and emergency response activities often result in noise exposure that exceeds NIOSH recommendations. Repeated exposure may gradually cause work-related hearing loss.

To prevent hearing impairment among fire fighters, we recommend using engineering and administrative controls to limit overall exposure to noise. When controls are not possible, we recommend hearing protection training and limiting noise exposures.

This page lists publications from our hearing research among fire fighters.