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Occupational noise exposure and hearing loss in fire fighters assigned to airport fire stations.

Tubbs RL
Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 1991 Sep; 52(9):372-378
In response to a request, an investigation was undertaken of possible hazardous conditions at a large metropolitan fire department as a result of noise exposures incurred by fire fighters at two stations which served the international airport at this city. The concern was that the added noise from air traffic might be causing a hearing loss among these fire fighters which was greater than that experienced by their counterparts at stations more removed from the airport scene. The noise survey consisted of personal noise dosimetry on fire fighters assigned to five fire stations (two serving the international airport, one serving a residential area, one serving a residential/industrial area, and one serving an inner city residential area) for an entire 24 hour period over 2 consecutive days at each station. The audiometric examinations were pure tone air conduction tests. A total of 144 dosimeter samples were collected. The findings of noise dosimetry showed time weighted averages that ranged from 60 to 82 decibels-A (dBA). However, the levels encountered during Code 3 responses reached 109 dBA for a 1 minute period of time. Noise exposure values for the fire fighters assigned to the airport stations were slightly, but not significantly higher than those for nonairport fire fighters. The average fire fighter exhibited a characteristic noise induced permanent threshold shift for the noise sensitive frequencies of 3000, 4000, and 6000 Hertz. This hearing loss was statistically related to the amount of time that individual had been on the job with decreasing hearing ability as a function of years of service. There was no indication that assignment to one of the airport fire stations increased the risk for hearing loss from noise exposure.
NIOSH-Author; Noise-exposure; Impulse-noise; Firemen; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Workplace-monitoring; Occupational-exposure; Fire-fighting-equipment
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American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal
Page last reviewed: September 22, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division