Methods for evaluating temporal trends in noise exposure.
Neitzel-RL; Galusha-D; Dixon-Ernst-C; Rabinowitz-PM
Int J Audiol 2014 Mar; 53(Suppl 2):S76-S83
OBJECTIVE: Hearing conservation programs have been mandatory in many US industries since 1983. Since then, three program elements (audiometric testing, hearing protection, and training) have been the focus of much research. By comparison, little has been done on noise exposure evaluation. DESIGN: Temporal trends in time weighted average (TWA) exposures and the fraction of measurements exceeding 85 dBA were evaluated by facility, by exposure group within facility, and by individual worker within facility. STUDY SAMPLE: A large dataset (>10 000 measurements over 20 years) from eight facilities operated by a multinational aluminum manufacturing company was studied. RESULTS: Overall, exposures declined across locations over the study period. Several facilities demonstrated substantial reductions in exposure, and the results of mean noise levels and exceedance fractions generally showed good agreement. The results of analyses at the individual level diverged with analyses by facility and exposure group within facility, suggesting that individual-level analyses, while challenging, may provide important information not available from coarser levels of analysis. CONCLUSIONS: Validated metrics are needed to allow for assessment of temporal trends in noise exposure. Such metrics will improve our ability to characterize, in a standardized manner, efforts to reduce noise-induced hearing loss.
Hearing-conservation; Hearing; Audiological-testing; Hearing-protection; Training; Noise-exposure; Noise; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Aluminum-foundries; Aluminum-compounds; Noise-levels; Workers; Work-environment; Epidemiology
Richard Neitzel, PhD University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences 6611 D SPH Tower 1415 Washington Heights Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029
International Journal of Audiology
University of Washington