NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals
K019589 - 021H: Chronic Occupational Noise, Stressors & Susceptibility in Cardiovascular Illness (9589)Start Date: 8/1/2009
End Date: 7/31/2012
Principal Investigator (PI)Name: Joan Karr
Sub-Unit: Office of Extramural Projects
Funded By: NIOSH
Primary Goal Addressed4.0
Secondary Goal AddressedNone
Attributed to Manufacturing100%
Cardiovascular illness is a leading cause of death among American adults. Though chronic noise and noiseinduced hearing loss are among the most prevalent occupational hazards, it remains unknown whether noise-related stress alters reposnse to other workplace contaminants, or whether hearing protection interventions, which modify the noise-hearing loss relationship, may reduce hypertension risk as well.
The examination of chronic occupational noise on cardiovascular illness has been complicated by: (1) the powerful modifying effect of hearing protection, more vigilantly worn in consistently high-noise environments, (2) strong correlations among workplace noise, job strain, contaminant exposures, heat, and physical exertion in manufacturing jobs, and (3) multiple possible causal pathways (auditory function and physical stress; annoyance and psychosocial stress). I propose to leverage our rich multi-site dataset of employment records, medical claims, on-site medical exams, job demand surveys, W-2 records, and industrial hygiene measures, provided through our unique partnership with the Alcoa Inc. We will validate noise exposures using unique in-ear dose measures being collected on a subset of 400 employees, develop multi-level longitudinal models to consider effects of time-varying noise across plants, and examine confounding by other workplace stressors (e.g., job strain, contaminants). Finally, we will consider the effect of noise, as a chronic stressor, to influence susceptibility to correlated contaminant exposures. This grant will transition me from my current position at Harvard to a full-time position at Yale. I have worked with Yale colleagues for two years on the Alcoa study, and continue to benefit from their rich expertise in occupational epidemiology and noise exposure assessment. I plan to develop a rich epidemiology research career built around my expertise in examining multiplicative effects between social stressors and contaminant exposures.
"This project is relevant to the mission of the NIOSH Cancer, Reproductive, Cardiovascular, Neurologic and Renal Diseases Cross Sector Program, which provides national and international leadership for the prevention of work-related diseases using a scientific approach to gather and synthesize information, create knowledge, provide recommendations, and deliver products and services to those who can effect prevention. The program strives to fulfill its mission to eliminate occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities among workers in these industries through a focused program of research and prevention, including 1) high quality research, 2) practical solutions, 3) partnerships, and 4) research to practice.