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Current Data Collection, Instruments and Methods

National Surveillance of Noise Exposure and Hearing Loss

This project will develop collection methods for hearing and noise information to support the upcoming NIOSH National Hazards Survey (NHS) and its sister, the NORA noise and hearing project. While the present infrastructure available at NIOSH can support this work, there has been no optimization for the efficient collection and analysis of data, and, thus, the tools of Signalator and HearS f 2000 have not been fully used. In addition, since the NHS will add interviews with workers, something which both the National Occupational Hazard Survey of the 1970s and the National Occupational Exposure Survey of the 1980s lacked, it is critical to ensure that the interview information is collected in a manner consistent with HearS f 2000, or that HearS f 2000 be adapted to manage the interview information.

Noise Sampling Strategies and Exposure-Response Models

There is evidence that impulsive noise may have more of an effect on hearing loss than continuous noise exposure at the same 8- hour time-weighted average (TWA). This project will improve on existing noise and hearing loss exposure-response analyses by determining the most accurate way of estimating the time-weighted average TWA and incorporating the combined effect of impulsive and continuous noise. The study will collect more precise measures of impulsive noise and examine different exposure metrics that may be applied in models describing the risk of hearing loss due to impulsive noise. Two main approaches to estimating the TWA noise exposure will be compared: task-based assessment (noise levels associated with each task in a given job, combined with time-at-task) and dosimetry (full-shift personal monitoring). Additionally, repeated measures of noise over several points in time on individuals and jobs will permit an evaluation of how the precision of different exposure assessment approaches affects the exposure-response analysis.

Cross-Sectional Survey: Noise Patterns/Sources Exposure

To better understand the variability in noise measurements in the mining industry, NIOSH is conducting a cross-sectional field study of the noise exposure of mine workers. The study includes a variety of mining methods, equipment, geographic locations and different mine sizes. This research will establish representative noise exposure profiles for the various mining occupations and will allow NIOSH to provide the most appropriate recommendations for preventing hearing loss.

Audiometric Assessment in NHANES IV

NIOSH is providing technical assistance in conjunction with support from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communicative Disorders (NIDCD) to the National Center for Health Statistics’ (NCHS) fourth National Hearing and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES IV). This survey will be the first to collect information about the hearing of adolescents and adults including histories and audiometric data. NIOSH will provide technical assistance for the six years of the survey including the development of training materials, training and oversight of the data collection. NIDCD will provide the instrumentation for the study and provide a consultant to work with NIOSH in technical assistance. At the completion of the study, data will have been collected for 30,000 individuals, forming the first complete database on the hearing of Americans that is free of testing artifacts and errors.

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