Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)


Remember when your mom told you to turn down your stereo or it would damage your hearing? You probably thought she was just an old hen who worried too much. Well, it turns out she was probably right! Noise is a major cause of hearing loss. Have a look at the articles below for additional insights into NIHL.

Noise is an enemy of hearing, and it really doesn’t take a lot of noise to damage hearing. This is something the baby boomers are finding out as their hearing deteriorates years before their parents’ did. Here’s a great article on noise as the cause of hearing loss, how much noise is necessary, and how noise damages the hearing mechanism. 

Here’s a bunch of information on medications that may prevent NIHL!

How loud is too loud? Well, it depends on lots of things, like frequency, duration, and an individual’s response to loud sounds. Here’s a set of guidelines from OSHA that relates sound level to maximum safe exposure time. (Scroll down about a page to Table G-16 to see exposure times.) And here’s a page from the CDC that provides estimates of the noise level of various common devices.  Here’s an example to help you make sense of this. The CDC page says that a chain saw produces noise of intensity 110 db. The OSHA page says that the maximum exposure time for 110 db is half an hour. So the conclusion is that if you operate a chain saw without hearing protection for longer than a half an hour, you are putting your hearing at risk.

June 2000 – Those of you who have been “encouraging” your kids to turn their music down to avoid harming their hearing now have corroboration from the scientific community. Here is their account of how loud music causes hearing loss.

December 2000 – Another recently identified cause of hearing loss is environmental noise. And this is affection younger and younger patients.

November 2001 – Read the wonderful fact sheet from the House Ear Institute about Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL).

December 2001 – Mobile Phone Games are Latest Threat to Hearing

December 2001 – ASHA Reminds Consumers to Beware of Noisy Toys

January 2002 – The sound industry is starting to take a look at their contribution to hearing loss and what liability they might have in cases of hearing loss. Here’s a report on what’s happening in that arena.

July 2002 – Kid’s Ear Saver Protects Kids’ Hearing

May 2003 – The music volume in clubs and concerts is a serious threat to young peoples’ hearing. Here’s an article from England with shocking statistics on the hearing loss threat to young people.

June 2003 – Is it just me or are we suddenly being inundated with articles on noise and its effect on hearing loss? It seems that I see a related article at least once a week! I guess that’s good, if it means people are becoming aware of noise’s potential to damage hearing. Here’s a great article on noise from ASHA (

July 2003 The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has some great resources on preventing NIHL. Here’s a story with some of that information.

July 2003 – Well, this article isn’t exactly about NIHL; it’s about how noise can elevate stress hormones.

June 2004 – If you operate a jack hammer, you might expect to be at risk for hearing loss. But have you ever considered the hearing loss risks for music teachers?

July 2004 – Some common foods may help prevent NIHL!

January 2005 – Still not concerned about the effects of NIHL on your kid’s hearing? This article from the House Ear Institute may change your mind!

April 2005 – You missed International Noise Awareness Day!

June 2005 – You know that noise can cause hearing loss. But did you know that the presence of carbon monoxide appears to increase the detrimental effect of noise on hearing?

July 2005 – The evidence continues to mount that personal listening devices can cause hearing loss.

August 2005 – The House Ear Institute just announced a new program to make kids aware of the dangers of their music listening habits. Here’s the notice.

September 2005 – The Dangerous Decibels project is a public health campaign designed to reduce the incidence and prevalence of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) and tinnitus (ringing in the ear) by changing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of school-aged children.

December 2005 – “The teeth-jarring rat-a-tat-tat of the pile driver outside my window has momentarily quieted, and I jump at the absence of the noise. Apparently one can get used to anything. But should I have to? And what damage is all that noise doing to me? A lot, apparently. Research on “noise pollution” . . . shows continued exposure to loud noise will cause hearing loss. . . .  studies have correlated noise with physiological changes in sleep, blood pressure and digestion, negative impacts on developing fetuses, and is one of the most common forms of sleep disturbance.”   

December 2005 – “Musicians and music fans obviously enjoy music. Unfortunately, the very music that they love could cause hearing loss over time. As older rockers, musicians and singers have developed hearing loss and tinnitus, hearing health awareness among musicians has increased. Efforts to educate the general public about the dangers of excessive noise exposure from music have also increased through organizations like Hearing Education Awareness for Rockers (HEAR). However, many people still do not realize that music students practicing without earplugs can be as dangerous as football players practicing without helmets.”    

December 2005 – Florida Cracks Down on Boom Cars – “Armed with a tougher law, police are cracking down on Florida drivers who cruise the streets with their stereos blaring. The stepped-up enforcement began this summer after the Legislature tightened an anti-noise statute to make it among the strictest in the nation. Motorists playing a car radio or stereo loud enough to be plainly heard from 25 feet away could wind up with a $70 ticket. The old buffer zone was 100 feet.” 

January 2006 – Are kids’ toys too loud?

January 2006 – Hearing Loss is a Growing Problem for Veterans

January 2006 – New Earplugs Get Warm Reception from Airforce.

January 2006 – Developers of the Apple iPod are hoping that consumers turn a deaf ear to recent criticism of the best-selling product. A recent Reuters article warns that iPod earbuds, which are placed directly in the ear, pose a threat to long-term hearing. While some audiologists maintain that the device’s distinctive earbuds contribute to hearing damage, what concerns most is the high sound level portable music players can reach.    

January 2006 – Deafness Soaring Among Soldiers.

January 2006 – Choosing the right headphones can save your hearing!

January 2006 – Why screaming doesn’t make you deaf!

February 2006 – Suit claims hearing loss from iPod

February 2006 – Doc warns on snowmobile noise

February 2006 – Noise Measurements Provide False Sense of Security

February 2006 – Special earmuffs can avert on-the-job hearing loss

February 2006 – Hearing Protection Devices offer sophisticated protection against potentially damaging noise.

February 2006 – What Young People Don’t Know About Hearing Loss Can Hurt Them

March 2006 – Music devices present hearing problem

March 2006 – Hearing Loss on rise among troops

March 2006 – Survey confirms widespread hearing loss symptoms

March 2006 – ROCK superstar Roger Daltrey has revealed years of rock music has taken its toll on his ears. 

March 2006 – Phil Collins Discusses His Hearing Loss

March 2006 – Apple releases software to set maximum volume limit on some iPods

March 2006 – RNID welcomes move by Apple to set volume cap for the iPod

March 2006 – Hearing Loss Rises Among U.S. Soldiers in Iraq

April 2006 – Hearing Protection for Musicians

April 2006 – Tighter noise law compensation claim

April 2006 – Headphones stir hearing-loss worries

April 2006 – Don’t let gun sports backfire on you

April 2006 – Classical Musicians May be More at Risk of Hearing Loss than Rock Musicians

April 2006 – How to become rich!

April 2006 – International Noise Awareness Day

April 2006 – Rock and Roll Hard of Hearing Hall of Fame

April 2006 – Military alarmed over skyrocketing hearing loss

May 2006 – Using proper headphones can prevent hearing loss

May 2006 – iPod Hearing Loss Protection for Boomers: Five HearPod Solutions

June 2006 – Now hear this: Ear `buds’ are cool, but the price may be too steep

June 2006 – Drug to Prevent and Treat NIHL Enters Clinical Testing

June 2006 – Auris Medical Otoprotective Drug Clinical Trial

July 2006 – RNID research discovers genetic link to hearing loss caused by loud noise

July 2006 – Blast-Related Ear Injury in Current U.S. Military Operations

August 2006 – By now we should all know the dangers of noise induced hearing Loss (NIHL) and bow to prevent it. If you or someone you know needs a refresher, this article from “Inside, the NIDCD Newsletter” should do the job.


Mobile Phone Games are Latest Threat to Hearing

December 2001

We should all know by now that attending a concert can be a threat to a person’s hearing, as can having headphones at a high volume. These threats are in addition to the more mundane threats of a loud workplace or social environment. Now we’re learning that games on mobile phones are potentially more damaging than any of these other situations.

A German magazine called “Computerbild” recently tested 16 mobile phone games, of which only one met government noise guidelines. The loudest of the games reached a hair cell destroying sound level of 133 dB. This is comparable to standing near a screaming jet engine without ear protection, and is well past the 120 dB pain threshold.

I don’t think cell phone games are much of a threat in the US yet, because our cell phone technology is well behind that of Europe. But Europeans (especially parents) need to be on the alert for these games now, and those of us in the US can expect this trend to arrive here before too long.


ASHA Reminds Consumers to Beware of Noisy Toys

December 2001

Editor: Thanks in part to education campaigns by a variety of groups, people are getting smarter about protecting their hearing from many threats. But did you ever think about potential hearing damage from toys? ASHA has thought about it, and here’s what they have to say.


As parents and family members begin shopping for toys to share with their children this holiday season, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reminds consumers that the noise produced by some toys may be harmful to a child’s ears. ASHA urges parents and others who purchase toys to listen to them before buying to make sure that the toys are not too loud.

Studies have shown that some toys, such as those with sirens or horns, can emit noises at a level of 90 decibels (dB) or higher, exposing children’s ears to levels of noise equivalent to those produced by a lawnmower. Other toys that may pose a danger to a child’s hearing include squeaky rubber toys, cap guns, walkie talkies, musical instruments and toys with cranks. The dangers of noisy toys become even greater when the toys are held directly to the ears, as children often do. This action can expose the ear to as much as 120 dB of sound, equivalent to the noise of a jet airplane taking off. Noise at this level is painful and can result in permanent hearing loss for individuals of any age.

ASHA urges parents and others buying toys to inspect them for noise dangers just as they would for small pieces that can be easily swallowed, and to not buy a toy if it sounds too loud.

If parents suspect that their child has been exposed to high levels of sound for a prolonged period of time, an ASHA-certified audiologist can help identify and assess any damage that may have occurred due to noise. An ASHA-certified audiologist can also provide information about the types of hearing protection available as well as treatment for noise-induced hearing loss. For free information on hearing loss and hearing conservation or a referral to a certified audiologist in their area, consumers may visit ASHA’s web site at or contact ASHA’s Helpline at 1-800-638-8255 (TALK).

ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 103,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.


Kid’s Ear Saver Protects Kids’ Hearing

July 2002

Editor: I recently got an email telling me about a product that prevents kids from turning up their walkman too loud. Here’s the letter from a satisfied mom. For more information, point your browser to


I purchased a new product last week from a company called the Kid’s Ear Saver Company…. it’s an adapter that permanently attaches to my child’s walkman and prevents her from turning up the volume too loud. I have such a terrific peace of mind knowing I’m helping prevent permanent hearing loss in my daughter. I think you might want to check it out, and mention it on your site.


Noise Induced Hearing Loss Safety

July 2003

Here’s another in what is turning into a series of articles on noise induced hearing loss (NIHL).

People used to think that they had to be around very loud sounds to damage their hearing. It turns out that’s not true. Long-term exposure to 90 db sound levels (e.g. a lawn mower) can also cause hearing loss.

Whatever the cause, more and more people are suffering NIHL, and it is occurring at ever-younger ages. I’ve seen some appalling statistics about hearing loss in young people. One British study claims that up to 70% of regular concertgoers have displayed hearing loss symptoms.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a Federal government agency that seeks to preserve our health and safety in the workplace, and they have a great page on NIHL. Here are the major topics:
* Where can I find information about noise and its health effects?
* Where can I find information to help me evaluate noise exposure?
* Where can I find information to help me control noise exposure?
* Where can I find compliance information, including regulations and standards?
* Where can I find information about training courses related to noise?
* Where can I find additional reference information about noise?

If your interest is piqued, point your browser to:


Noise Can Elevate Stress Hormones

Editor: I guess it should come as no big surprise that noise can cause stress. I’ve known that for a long time, and it seems that the older I get, the more I’m bothered by noise – and I don’t just mean the stuff the kids call music today 😉

Anyway, it was interesting to read an analysis of the issue. Here are a few excerpts. The full article is at:


The dull roar of traffic, punctuated by the distinctive blats of Harleys and rumbles of muscle cars. The window-rattling vibration from the plane overhead. The rock music played by the guy across the street, who – like you – has thrown open his windows.

The big dog next door: Woof-woof-woof-woof-woof … WOOF!

Very likely, researchers say, if somebody were to slap some monitors on you, they’d find your blood pressure up, breath coming a little faster, stomach starting to get a bit balky. They’d probably find you were having trouble concentrating, maybe even getting crabby.

Everybody knows that Big Noise can permanently hurt your hearing. An epidemic of baby boomers with hearing damage – including former President Clinton – has reinforced warnings about ear-blasting rock concerts, close-by fireworks, gunfire and even saxophones. Even common noises at 85 decibels, a measurement of sound somewhere between the typical alarm clock and a lawn mower, can damage ears if they hang around long enough.

But what about that low-level noise? Dishwashers, traffic, music, vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, airplanes?

While such noise may not damage your hearing, researchers are finding that your body reacts to it in the same ways it does to other types of stress. Unwanted sound, says Cornell University noise researcher Gary Evans, “puts demands on you, and you try to cope with that – but some of the things you do to cope aren’t very healthy.”

Noise, says the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, can elevate blood pressure, cause fatigue, reduce sleep, increase frustration and anxiety, disturb digestion and impair concentration.

Even when people say they’re not being annoyed, their bodies can be experiencing detrimental changes, Evans said. Blood tests on workers in noisy offices found elevated stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine, even when they said they weren’t bothered by the noise.

“You can get used to noise, and after a while it doesn’t bother you too much,” he said. “But you pay a heavy price for getting used to it, because it’s something that does place demands on your system. You can figure out strategies to cope with it, but there is no free lunch.”

At the San Francisco Chronicle, restaurant critics carry meters that measure decibels. Noise ratings have gotten “tremendous feedback,” says executive food and wine editor Michael Bauer. In his recent “top 100” list, he said, about 75 percent were rated “four bells” – environments in which people must raise their voices to talk. Many would-be diners tell him they avoid patronizing such noisy places, he noted.


Music Teachers at Risk of Hearing Loss

June 2004

Editor: I’m happy to report that we seem to be getting smarter about protecting our hearing. Even ten years ago it was unusual to see someone wearing hearing protection; now I often see landscapers and construction workers with hearing protection. Even musicians are taking steps to protect their hearing. How about music teachers? That’s a group I never thought of, but they do seem to be at risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

How about your profession? Are you routinely exposed to noise? Should you be using hearing protection? Don’t wait until declining hearing alerts you to a noisy environment; if your hearing needs to be protected, just do it!


University of Toronto Study Finds Music Teachers at Risk of Hearing Loss

TORONTO, May 18 (AScribe Newswire) — A study by researchers at University of Toronto suggests that music teachers are routinely exposed to noise levels that could result in hearing loss.

Led by research associate Alberto Behar and electrical and computer engineering professors Hans Kunov and Willy Wong, the team found that while general noise exposure over the course of an average day is marginally acceptable, noise levels during teaching periods could damage the inner ear. “The hair cells of the inner ear simply crumble under the load, and they don’t grow back again,” says Kunov.

According to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, noise levels on the job should not exceed 90 decibels (dB)-the equivalent of a power lawn mower-over eight hours of a 24-hour period. Wong and his colleagues used noise dosimeters to measure exposure for 18 teachers from 15 Toronto high schools and found that the peak noise level exceeded 85 dB for 78 per cent of the teachers. During an average eight-hour exposure, the team determined that 39 per cent of the teachers faced potentially harmful noise levels.

Most of the classrooms are constructed with concrete blocks and linoleum, providing a highly reflective sound surface. “The world is louder than we think,” says Wong. “Schools might consider protective measures such as sound baffling and carpet and teachers might also wear protective earplugs and consider periodic hearing checks.”

The study, which was funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, was published in the April 2004 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.


Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Becomes a Health Issue for Today’s Youth

January 2005

Editor: We make it a point to raise the alarm about noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) on a regular basis, especially as we see it affecting people at ever-younger ages. This article from the House Ear Institute (HEI) presents some disturbing information regarding the prevalence of NIHL among our youngsters. Our thanks to HEI for permission to share this article with you.

For more information on hearing, hearing loss, or HEI, point your browser to


Noisy Toys, Personal Stereos May Put Your Child at Risk for Hearing Loss

Noisy toys and blaring personal stereos may be more than just a holiday shopping regret for many parents this year. Experts say the toy cell phones that fascinate toddlers and portable stereos that brand your teens as “cool” may be causing permanent damage to their hearing by delivering potentially deafening decibel levels to their ears. Coupled with a busy season of loud blockbuster movies and computer games targeted to young people, our youth are surrounded by increasing risk factors for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) — a common, but preventable form of injury.

More than 30 million Americans are exposed to hazardous sound levels on a regular basis, and an estimated 10 million already have hearing loss from noise ( The National Center for Environmental Health conducted a study of noise-induced hearing threshold shifts (NITS) among U.S. children and found that 14.9 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 19 years have hearing loss in one or both ears. The NITS study suggests that children are being exposed to excessive amounts of hazardous levels of noise, and that their hearing is vulnerable to these exposures.

How loud is too loud? According to guidelines established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control, regular or prolonged exposure to noises at or above 85 dB (decibels) can pose a hearing risk. As a further point of reference, for every 3 decibel (dB) increase, actual acoustic energy doubles – significantly decreasing the length of time your ears can safely withstand exposure to the sound pressure level.

“In general, if you have to raise your voice to be heard, the environment is too loud for your ears,” says researcher Sig Soli, Ph.D, House Ear Institute. “And the louder the sound, the less time it takes before your hearing will be affected. Just 15 minutes at a rock concert can subject you to 100 decibels or more of damaging sound — the maximum duration of exposure for that sound level. Cranking up the volume too high on a stereo or headset can pose a similar risk.”

In an increasingly noisy world with an array of noisy activities, gadgets and digital electronics to entice them, noise-induced hearing loss among our youth has become a growing health concern. Another study of NIHL in children, conducted by the League for the Hard of Hearing in 1996, found that 10 percent of ninth graders failed a hearing screening and that these students had never before been identified as having hearing difficulties. Furthermore, their teachers reported that these students exhibited learning and behavior problems in class.

Noise-induced hearing loss is 100 percent preventable, but once it happens, the hearing loss is permanent. Parents should encourage children to wear hearing protection (ear plugs or ear muffs) in noisy environments, and can set a good example by turning down the volume levels of all household noise sources, and wearing hearing protection when you mow the lawn, vacuum the house, blow dry your hair or operate power tools. These activities expose you and your family to sound levels ranging from 80 to 95 decibels.

Consumers can measure the sound output levels of potential noisemakers in their environment with the help of a digital docemeter (sound level meter), available at many electronic retail stores for approximately $75.00. While the Consumer Products Safety Commission ( indicates they do not currently have specific decibel regulations that address the loudness of toys, parents should be aware that some squeaky toys, play phones and musical toys have been measured at 100 to 130 decibels. Advise kids to follow these tips for hearing conservation: avoid loud noises at or in excess of 85 decibels, lower volume levels on your stereo, and wear earplugs in noisy environments like concerts (100 to 120 dB), movie theatres (80 to 100 dB) and sports stadiums (80 to 100 dB).

“Concerned parents can protect their younger children’s sensitive ears by choosing quieter toys or lowering the volume on noisy toys by taping over speakers or removing batteries,” says James D. Boswell, CEO, House Ear Institute. “You can help your older children save their hearing by teaching them that loud noise is a potential health danger. If you buy them an MP3 player or a noisy computer game, take the time to demonstrate the safe sound level limits to protect their ears from permanent damage.”

For more information on hearing and hearing loss, visit the House Ear Institute (HEI) Web site at or call (213) 483-4431 and ask about the Institute’s Sound Partners hearing conservation program.

Content Courtesy of the House Ear Institute.


You Missed International Noise Awareness Day!

Editor: Actually, so did I! I knew about it in advance because of the following press release. So I read my local newspaper and the hearing loss email lists especially closely, because I wanted to see what clever ideas people had to spread the word about noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). It is, after all, one of the major causes of hearing loss. Sadly, I didn’t see a single article or activity, other than the following press release. 🙁

I’ve been expressing the idea that members of the oral hearing loss (OHL) community need to become more proactive in advocating for themselves. One way to do that is to promote events related to hearing loss. The Deaf community has done a wonderful job of advocating for itself. One result is that Deaf Awareness Day (and the Deaf community) gets LOTS of media attention every September.

But don’t abandon all hope! May is Better Hearing Month, and that usually does get a bit of attention. It’s not too late for your group to organize a Hearing Loss Awareness Day event next month, contact your local paper and TV station for free publicity, and help to spread the word.

Here’s the press release from the House Ear Institute.


Recent Studies Confirm Potential Harmful Effects of Noise on Hearing

LOS ANGELES – April 18, 2005 – A growing number of Americans suffer from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) due to dangerous noise levels in the environment. International Noise Awareness Day (April 20) and May, which is Better Hearing Month, alert the public to the risk of noisy activities. Hearing health experts at the House Ear Institute (HEI) caution that sounds at or above 85 decibels (dB) may cause permanent hearing loss with prolonged exposure. How loud is too loud?

“In general, if you have to raise your voice to be heard, the environment may be too loud for your ears,” said researcher Sig Soli, Ph.D., House Ear Institute. “And the louder the sound, the less time it takes before your hearing will be affected. Just 15 minutes at a rock concert can subject you to 100 decibels or more of damaging sound – the maximum duration of safe daily exposure for that sound level. Cranking up the volume too high on a stereo or headset can pose a similar risk.”

With prolonged exposure, many routine activities such as mowing the lawn, blow-drying your hair, and frequenting nightclubs or loud sports events may pose a risk. HEI experts urge people to wear earplugs when participating in noisy activities. The duration of sound exposure, repeated exposure, intensity of the sound signal, and individual susceptibility can all contribute to your risk for noise-induced hearing loss.

“You can reduce your risk for permanent noise-related hearing loss by avoiding noisy settings, wearing earplugs, or taking 15-minute quiet breaks every few hours,” said research audiologist Rachel Cruz, M.A., CCC-A, FAAA, House Ear Institute. “For example, if you’re attending a nightclub, step outside for a while to give your ears a rest. And, if your ears are buzzing or you notice that sounds seem temporarily muffled or distorted, it’s probably time to call it a night.”


Noise and Carbon Monoxide Increase Hearing Loss

June 2005

Editor: Researchers at the University of Montreal have discovered that the presence of carbon monoxide causes increased hearing loss to people exposed to loud noises. The following article from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ( is reproduced with their kind permission.


Cocktail of noise and carbon monoxide increases hearing loss: study

MONTREAL – Garage mechanics, firefighters and truckers, listen up: a new study shows chronic exposure to noise plus carbon monoxide increases hearing loss.

The Université de Montréal study of 8,600 workers between 1983 and 1996 is the first to link carbon monoxide and hearing loss in humans. It is to be published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America by early next year.

Lead researcher Adriana Lacerda is to present the study on Wednesday in Vancouver at the society’s annual meeting.

The results revealed that workers who were exposed to carbon monoxide and noise levels above 90 decibels – the sound of a chainsaw – had trouble hearing high frequencies (from three to six kilohertz). A larger shift was observed among workers with 25-29 years of noise exposure in the workplace.

These workers would not be able to hear birds singing or telephones ringing, study supervisor Tony Leroux told CBC News Online.

“They are not deaf but they have a larger hearing loss than we would expect if they were just exposed to noise,” Leroux said.

The hearing loss took place over decades. Most workers did not show significant hearing loss until after 20 years in the work place.

The study suggested hearing loss was caused by lower levels of oxygen in the blood stream, which accelerates the deterioration of the sensory cells of the inner ear.

“The inner ear that contains the sensory cells needs a lot of oxygen to operate,” Leroux said. “They are suffering from anoxia, a lack of oxygen.”

Another theory is that both noise and carbon monoxide produce free radicals – atoms that attack the bonds of chemical reactions – which damage cells.

The U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health estimates that nearly one million workers are exposed to significant levels of carbon monoxide. Those at risk include welders, fork lift operators, foundry workers, industrial mechanics, diesel engine operators and miners.

Leroux said rock musicians in smoky bars would appear to be candidates for increased hearing loss, but were not studied because carbon monoxide is just one component of cigarette smoke.

Wearing earplugs is not enough to stop the damage, Leroux said. Alternative energy sources should be found for many of these workers who work with motors, he said.

And he said a growing pastime in Quebec, indoor go-cart racing, is ripe for hearing loss. Part of the solution could be powerful ventilation systems and mufflers. “But carts have to make noise to be fun,” he noted.

Copyright (c) CBC 2005


Another Possible iPod Trend: Loss of Hearing

July 2005

We’ve reported on the fact that today’s young people seem to be experiencing hearing loss at an astonishing rate, and that personal audio equipment seems to be contributing to that trend. Newsday recently published an article in which they state that twelve percent of children and teens in the US suffer from noise-induced hearing loss! That’s higher than the ten percent benchmark that is normally applied to the general population!

The maximum output of personal audio equipment in Europe is 100 db. While that’s loud enough to cause hearing loss, it’s nowhere near the 120+ db levels of the unregulated devices in the US.

For the complete article, please point your browser to:,0,6015310.story


HEI Launches Hearing Conservation Program for MTV Generation

August 2005

Editor: We’ve known for some time that today’s kids are damaging their hearing far beyond what earlier generations did, and that the main culprit is loud music. We’ve seen reports that as many as 17% of high school kids have significant hearing loss! But we haven’t seen anyone doing much about it – until now.

The House Ear Institute just announced a new program to make kids aware of the dangers of their music listening habits. Here’s the notice.


Teens and young adults – the so-called “MTV Generation” – are the newest target audience of the House Ear Institute’s Sound Partners hearing conservation program. Over the past few years, audio professionals and musicians have benefited from hearing conservation workshops, materials and hearing screenings provided by the Institute’s Sound Partners program and its sponsors at industry events. Reaching tens of thousands of industry professionals since its inception, the program’s efforts to date have resulted in improved hearing conservation practices within the music and pro-audio industries. The Institute sees a growing urgency to expand its program beyond these industries to reach young consumer audiences, who typically crank up the volume in a world wired for sound, but generally are unaware of the serious risks that loud decibels (exceeding 85 dB) can pose to their hearing. Yet, this sector of the population that considers loud to be synonymous with cool can be particularly challenging to influence in ways that will effect behavioral change.

The House Ear Institute, with support from its industry sponsors and assistance from DeCarolis Design & Marketing Agency, will launch a nine-month test market campaign in Phoenix, Arizona in January 2006 to address this challenge through a series of promotions targeted to teens and comprehensive market research to analyze the results. “This is a vital first step to discovering what it will take to reach this vulnerable sector of the population and ignite a sense of urgency and concern among teens who have an avid appreciation for great sound,” said Marilee Potthoff, marketing director, House Ear Institute. “Baby boomers who have early-onset hearing loss from the loud activities of their youth regret that they didn’t know enough to protect their hearing from permanent damage when they were young. Our challenge is delivering an effective warning message to the next generation before it’s too late.”

About the House Ear Institute

The House Ear Institute (HEI) is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to advancing hearing science through research and education to improve quality of life. HEI scientists are exploring the causes of auditory disorders at the cellular and molecular level as well as the complex ear-brain interaction, and refining the application of auditory implants, diagnostic techniques and hearing aids. For more information please call (213) 483-4431 or visit the Web site at


Tis the Season to be Loud

January 2006

“Hearing Review” Editor-in-Chief Karl Strom published an opinion piece in the December issue that addressed the volume of many of today’s toys. Included in the article were the results of a fairly comprehensive survey of current toys as well as information on a new voluntary toy industry acoustic noise standard.

Here’s the story!


Hearing loss is a growing problem for veterans

January 2006

Now that his world is quieter, what Vietnam War veteran Romeo Rasing remembers about Navy life is the noise. “My battle station was right above the turret. We had to keep bombing day and night,” said Rasing, 56, who served on the cruiser Oklahoma City early in a 22-year Navy career that included 13 years of sea duty. “When the ship was in the yard, there were all kinds of noises – grinding, chipping, banging, pounding, welding.”  Full Story


New earplugs get warm reception from Air Force

January 2006

The same kind of earplugs sold to Def Leppard, the Moody Blues, Nine Inch Nails and other rock bands are slowly starting to be used by U.S. military pilots to protect hearing, muffle cockpit noise and ease communications. Lt. Gen. John Bradley, chief of the Air Force Reserve, tested the earplugs himself when he flew F-16 jet fighters in December. Bradley was so impressed that he directed his staff to tap into unused funds to speed up purchasing the earplugs. Full Story


Deafness Soaring Among Soldiers

January 2006

The ranks of current and former military personnel receiving disability pensions for deafness has soared in recent years to almost 80,000, more than the number of active service members. A newly published Department of National Defence study says a lack of training and uncomfortable, incompatible ear-protection gear are partly to blame. The review also confirmed that middle-aged service members are more than twice as likely as the average Canadian to have moderate to severe hearing loss.  Full Story


Finding the Right Headphones

January 2006

What’s interesting is that your choice of headphones can actually help your hearing, as opposed to damaging it. Consider some of the typical places people use headphones: on a train or bus while commuting, walking through a city or college, traveling in a car (hopefully not while driving), or traveling on an airplane. Many of these places are loud environments, especially those that involve trains, buses, and airplanes. People who use headphones in these kinds of places tend to turn up the volume louder than they normally would, to drown out the sounds around them. They’re in even more danger of losing or damaging their hearing.  Full Story


Why Screaming Doesn’t Make You Deaf  

February 2006

As you scream for your favorite sports team, special brain cells kick in to protect your auditory system from the sound of your own voice, a new study suggests. These cells dampen your auditory neurons’ ability to detect incoming sounds. The moment you shut up, the inhibition signal stops and your hearing returns to normal, so you can then be deafened by the screams of the guy next to you.  Full Story


Suit claims hearing loss from iPod

February 2006

SAN FRANCISCO – An owner of Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod music player filed a federal lawsuit against the computer maker, claiming the device causes hearing loss in people who use it. The portable music players are “inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss,” according to the complaint, which seeks class action status. The suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, seeks compensation for plaintiffs’ hearing loss and upgrades that will make the iPods safer.  Full Story


Doc urges park noise warnings  

February 2006

A Yale University physician and professor said the National Park Service should issue warnings to the public and park employees about potential hearing damage sustained from winter snowmobile noise. Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, occupational and environmental medicine program professor at the New Haven, Conn., school, said this week a Park Service report showed noise was “high enough to potentially cause hearing loss if the exposure was prolonged.”  Full Story


Noise measurements provide false sense of security

February 2006

This story is republished with the kind permission of the folks at Hear-it (

The global standard for noise measurements underestimates the levels of hazardous noise, providing a false sense of security about dangerous noise levels.

The so-called A weighted noise measurement in dB has been the official standard for measuring noise in the workplace since the 1950s. But these measurements underestimate the power of certain types of noise which may cause hearing loss, according to researchers from Ålborg University in Denmark.

Short noise peaks from rattling bottles, compressed air blasts, and metal on metal noises are among the types of noises that the researchers found the standard noise measuring method unfit to record.

New method needed

The common noise measuring method has three shortcomings:

* Treble noises are recorded at the same levels as base and middle tones, yet treble noises are more damaging to people’s hearing.

* Brief noise peaks are systematically adjusted to lower values even though noise peaks can be extremely damaging to people’s hearing.

* Noise emanating from a front angle is given the same value as noise from other directions, even though the ear is more sensitive to such noise.

The current method of noise level recording was designed to provide indications of how the noise is perceived rather than how damaging it is to the ears. Because of this, the researchers recommend that new and improved methods for measuring noise in the workplace should be developed.


Special earmuffs can avert on-the-job hearing loss

February 2006

Dear Tim: My husband will not listen to me, and I grow tired of raising my voice at him. Over the years, he has ruined his hearing by working around loud machinery. Each month it seems it is getting worse. He wears an inexpensive pair of earmuffs and says they work just fine. I tried them when I used our lawnmower, and the noise level barely dropped. Is there an affordable way to save what hearing is left?  Full Story


What Young People Don’t Know About Hearing Loss Can Hurt Them 

February 2006

According to survey results published in a spring 2005 issue of Pediatrics (abstract available free; full article available for a fee), only 8 percent of respondents completing an Internet survey that targeted adolescents and young adults defined hearing loss as a “very big problem.” Respondents to the survey, which was hosted on the Web site, ranked hearing loss well below other health issues, such as sexually transmitted disease (50 percent), drug and alcohol use (47 percent), depression (44 percent), and even acne (18 percent). Yet despite the low percentage of respondents identifying hearing loss as a problem, more than 60 percent reported tinnitus after attending a concert or other loud music venue, and more than 40 percent reported temporary hearing impairment after such an event. Only 14 percent reported using earplugs in places where loud music was played, although 59 percent said they could be motivated to use ear protection if so advised by a medical professional.  Full Story


Music devices present hearing problem

March 2006

Hearing is a great gift. It allows people to hear so many wonderful things including laughter, movies and music. Hearing at times can be taken for granted-perhaps because few know the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss. John Kiel Patterson from Louisiana filed a class action lawsuit Jan. 31 against Apple for this very reason. Patterson claimed that the iPod, which can produce sounds at 115 decibels, could lead to hearing loss. What’s alarming is that people are consciously exposing themselves to loud volumes, some unaware of the permanent harm that can occur. Full Story  


Hearing loss on rise among troops

March 2006

The Army’s chief of staff, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, wears hearing aids. Asked why once, the crusty special operations veteran grinned and said: “Guns, helicopters, demolition – 36 years of it.” Gen. Schoomaker’s faulty hearing is far from rare in the military. And experts say the war in Iraq has led to epidemic rates of hearing loss among troops. Yet while all the armed services are scrambling to come up with better hearing protection, the Army is slashing its staff of military audiologists – the specialists who combat hearing loss – to make room for more “trigger pullers” at the front. Only two military audiologists, for example, are at Fort Hood, home base for more than 40,000 soldiers.  Full Story  



ROCK superstar Roger Daltrey has revealed years of rock music has taken its toll on his ears. The 62-year-old Who frontman’s hearing has been worn away by years of performing on stage. Full Story  


Phil Collins Discusses His Hearing Loss

March 2006

According to media reports, 55-year-old singer Phil Collins is gradually losing his hearing and becoming increasingly lonely in his beautiful Swiss home near Geneva. The problems are said to have begun in 2000 when Collins first became aware of a loss of hearing in his right ear and took this as a sign that he needed to change his attitude to life.   Full Story


Apple releases software to set maximum volume limit on some iPods

March 2006

In a world where hearing problems are real, concerns are mounting and lawyers are looking to make gadget providers liable, the maker of the predominant iPod music player has created new volume controls. Apple issued a software update Wednesday for its recent iPod models — the Nano and the video-capable iPod — allowing users to set how loud their digital music players can go.  Full Story  


Hearing Loss Rises Among U.S. Soldiers in Iraq

March 2006

Soldiers sent to battle zones are over 50 times more likely to suffer noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) than soldiers who do not deploy, according to research published in the December 2005 issue of American Journal of Audiology (AJA). The study, led by Thomas M. Helfer, Nikki N. Jordan, and Robyn B Lee of the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, examined the cases of 806 U.S. soldiers diagnosed with NIHL. Full Story  


Hearing Protection for Musicians

April 2006

Musicians need to hear well, and safely, when they play. Standard industrial-type hearing protectors muffle sound and frequently provide too much attenuation and occlusion to be acceptable for musicians. This article describes the selection of high-fidelity earplugs for musicians. Full Story


Tighter noise law compensation claim

April 2006

Speculation that tighter legislation to protect workers from harmful occupational noise could spark a wave of new compensation claims for work-related hearing problems(1) when it comes into force this Thursday is not necessarily true, according to new research by UK health & safety experts Croner. Nearly two in three (65%) polled by Croner/YouGov said they are already aware of their right to claim against an employer or former employer if they suffer with a work-related hearing defect or hearing loss, which is particularly common in industries such as construction, engineering, manufacturing and printing. Full Story  


Headphones stir hearing-loss worries

April 2006

Maybe your kids really can’t hear you after all. More than half of high school students surveyed reported at least one symptom of hearing loss associated with the use of portable music players, like iPods and other MP3 players, in a poll by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.


Classical Musicians May be More at Risk of Hearing Loss than Rock Musicians

April 2006

People who are less familiar with classical music may think of it as calming. Richard H. Israel, an audiologist and a long-time music lover, had some other thoughts. And that is why he is serving as consulting audiologist for the National Philharmonic Orchestra (NPO). Classical music often reaches dangerous sound levels. For example, in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, when movements such as the “Gotterdammerung” are played, orchestra sounds of 110 decibels are attained. Trumpeters playing Mahler’s Ninth Symphony produce passages of 112 decibels. The recommended daily sound maximum is 85 decibels for eight hours a day.  Full Story  


I hear ya, eh?

April 2006

Anyone interested in a hot tip on how to make a lot of money without any risk? It’s not my job to pass along financial advice, but in this instance I can’t resist the urge. Invest in a hearing aid company, because the next generation is going deaf and they don’t know it.   Full Story


International Noise Awareness Day

April 2006

Editor: International Noise Awareness Day is almost here! And I bet you didn’t even know it was coming! Sadly, I didn’t either, until I saw this notice from the League for the Hard of Hearing (LHH). With increasing focus on the dangers of noise exposure, hopefully this event will become better known in the future. Here’s the notice from LHH.


Noise is all around us and more and more people are affected by the constant noise in the home, at work, at school and in the streets. The annual International Noise Awareness Day brings the noise and the problems associated with it into focus.

“It is time to address the threat that noise poses to hearing, health, learning and behavior,” says Amy Boyle, Director of the Noise Center of the League for the Hard of Hearing.

The International Noise Awareness Day this year will be held on Wednesday, 26th of April.

Many events are planned throughout the day. In one of them the public will be asked to observe the Quiet Diet. The Quiet Diet, one minute of quiet from 2:15 to 2:16 regardless of your location, will tie the events together across the globe.

Once again, the League for the Hard of Hearing will sponsor this annual event.

For more information about International Noise Awareness Day events, contact the local hearing organization.

To learn more:


Rock and Roll Hard of Hearing Hall of Fame

April 2006

The official selection for the 2006 Rock and Roll Hard of Hearing Hall of Fame ( has been made. Selection criteria are based on consideration of an individual’s body of work, and damaged inner ears because of music amplification and use of headphones.

Initial Selections for 2006:

Pete Townshend – Guitar (The Who)

Jeff Beck – Guitar (Yardbirds)

Eric Clapton – Guitar (Yardbirds)

John Entwhistle – Bass Guitar (The Who)

Mick Fleetwood – Drums (Fleetwood Mac)

James Destri – Keyboards (Blondie)

Bono – Vocals (U2)

Phil Collins – Vocals (Genesis)

Full Story


Military alarmed over skyrocketing hearing loss

April 2006

As disability payments for hearing loss skyrocket,  the military is becoming much more aware of the dangers of loud noises and their impact on people’s hearing – and they’re taking steps to reverse the alarming trend. Here’s a Navy website that does a great job of treating the entire subject of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), and also talks about the Navy’s noise-related programs.  Full Story


Using proper headphones can prevent hearing loss

May 2006

People keep pumping up the volume on their digital music players — and damaging their hearing — because those cheap little headphones can’t block out external noise. When you’re walking down a busy street, riding a city bus or taking the A train, the iPod’s volume goes up, up and up when competing with the ambient noise. Though Apple recently released software for the iPod Nano and video iPod that locks in volume peaks with a special code, a pair of noise-blocking or noise-canceling headphones guards against hearing loss. With external noise blocked, music will seem as loud as those old earbuds but at reduced actual volume.


Blast-Related Ear Injury in Current U.S. Military Operations

July 2006

In the 16th century, the French surgeon Ambroise Paré reported “… a great thunderous noise, large bells or artillery, and thus one often sees gunners losing their hearing whilst drawing the machinery because of the great agitation of the air inside the ear which breaks the aforementioned membrane and moves to the bones known as ossicles out of their natural position: so that the air is implanted or absorbed within the sinuses of the mastoid cavity and the patient has a continuous noise and air within the ear.” (Mudry, 1999). Five centuries later, noise-induced hearing loss and ear injury continues to be inextricably linked to military service, particularly in time of war.

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