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Longitudinal assessment of noise exposure in a cohort of construction workers.

Neitzel-RL; Stover-B; Seixas-NS
Ann Occup Hyg 2011 Oct; 55(8):906-916
OBJECTIVES: To address questions surrounding noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) from variable noise, we have been evaluating noise exposures and changes in hearing in a prospective cohort of construction workers (representing eight trades) and controls. In this paper, we develop and explore several long-term exposure estimates for cohort members. METHODS: We followed cohort members between 1999 and 2009 and interviewed them approximately annually to obtain a detailed work history for the previous subject-interval while also collecting tests of hearing sensitivity. Over the same period, we also collected a sample of full-shift average noise measurements and activity information. We used data from these two sources to develop various exposure estimates for each subject for specific subject intervals and for the duration of the study. These estimates included work duration, trade-mean (TM)-equivalent continuous exposure level (L(EQ)), task-based (TB) L(EQ), a hybrid L(EQ) combining TB and subjective information, and an estimate of noise exposure 'peakiness'. RESULTS: Of the 456 subjects enrolled in the study, 333 had at least 2 interviews and met several inclusion criteria related to hearing sensitivity. Depending on the metric used, between one-third and three-quarters of 1310 measured full-shift noise exposures exceeded permissible and recommended exposure limits. Hybrid and TB exposure estimates demonstrated much greater variability than TM estimates. Work duration and estimates of exposure peakiness showed poor agreement with average exposures, suggesting that these metrics evaluate different aspects of exposure and may have different predictive value for estimating NIHL. CONCLUSIONS: Construction workers in the cohort had subject-interval and study-average exposures which present a substantial potential risk of NIHL. In a subsequent paper, we will use these estimates to evaluate the exposure-response relationship between noise and NIHL.
Noise; Noise-exposure; Noise-measurement; Construction-workers; Construction-industry; Exposure-levels; Exposure-assessment; Models; Occupational-exposure; Noise-frequencies; Noise-levels; Noise-sources; Noise-transmission; Hearing; Hearing-loss; Hearing-tests; Permissible-concentration-limits; Permissible-limits; Exposure-limits; Job-analysis; Task-performance; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Long-term-exposure; Long-term-study; Author Keywords: construction; exposure assessment; exposure variability; noise
Richard. L. Neitzel, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-003912; B01182012
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Annals of Occupational Hygiene
Performing Organization
University of Washington