May 4, 2007, Newsletter Issue #63: The high cost of noise

Tip of the Week

Judging by the statistics, our hearing is taking a beating like never before. Researchers at Yale University tell us that noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common after age-related hearing loss (presbycusis). Here are a few more hearing loss factoids you can lay on your friends at work. Of the more than 28 million Americans with some degree of hearing impairment, as many as 10 million have hearing loss caused in part by excessive noise exposure in the workplace or during recreational activities. The economic costs of occupational hearing loss have been estimated to be in the billions of dollars. Noise-induced hearing loss has been well recognized since the industrial revolution. An early term for the condition was "boilermakers' disease," because so many workers who made steam boilers developed hearing loss. In today's noisy society, even children and young adults are at risk. A recent study found evidence of high-frequency hearing loss in nearly one third of a cohort of college students. Of course, the great majority of this lost hearing could have been prevented simply by using hearing protection.

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