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Evaluation of the risk of noise-induced hearing loss among unscreened male industrial workers.

Prince MM; Gilbert SJ; Smith RJ; Stayner LT
J Acoust Soc Am 2003 Feb; 113(2):871-880
Variability in background risk and distribution of various risk factors for hearing loss may explain some of the diversity in excess risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). This paper examines the impact of various risk factors on excess risk estimates of NIHL using data from the 1968-1972 NIOSH Occupational Noise and Hearing Survey (ONHS). Previous analyses of a subset of these data focused on 1172 highly "screened" workers. In the current analysis, an additional 894 white males (609 noise-exposed and 285 controls), who were excluded for various reasons (i.e., nonoccupational noise exposure, otologic or medical conditions affecting hearing, prior occupational noise exposure) have been added 2066) to assess excess risk of noise-induced material impairment in an unscreened population. Data are analyzed by age, duration of exposure, and sound level (8-h TWA) for four different definitions of noise-induced hearing impairment, defined as the binaural pure-tone average (PTA) hearing threshold level greater than 25 dB for the following frequencies: (a) 1-4 kHz (PTA1234), (b) 1-3 kHz (PTA123), (c) 0.5, 1, and 2 kHz (PTA512), and (d) 3, 4, and 6 kHz (PTA346). Results indicate that populations with higher background risks of hearing loss may show lower excess risks attributable to noise relative to highly screened populations. Estimates of lifetime excess risk of hearing impairment were found to be significantly different between screened and unscreened population for noise levels greater than 90 dBA. Predicted age-related risk of material hearing impairment in the ONHS unscreened population was similar to that predicted from Annex B and C of ANSI S3.44 for ages less than 60 years. Results underscore the importance of understanding differential risk patterns for hearing loss and the use of appropriate reference (control) populations when evaluating risk of noise-induced hearing impairment among contemporary industrial populations.
Hearing-loss; Hearing-tests; Hearing-threshold; Noise-analysis; Noise-exposure; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Audiometry; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Epidemiology; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Mathematical-models
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DSHEFS, IWSB, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Hearing Loss
Source Name
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Page last reviewed: October 26, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division