Harmful Noise Exposure Can Be Everywhere

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Hearing is an important sense that enables us to understand and communicate to other people, through listening. Moreover, we cannot deny that noise pollution can be threat to our sense of hearing.  According to a recent study, 9 out of 10 city dwellers are exposed to harmful noise which can lead to increased likelihood of hearing loss. What’s more, we can get such exposure from leisure activities.

In the past, harmful noise levels were attributed to loud workplaces. However, the University of Michigan researchers discovered that noise coming from MP3 players and use of stereo has surpassed the loud work settings. This was according to Rick Neitzel, assistant professor in the U-M School of Public Health and the Risk Science Center. The lead researcher for this study is Robyn Gershon, professor of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies (University of California, San Francisco).

This finding has been proven despite MP3 player and stereo listening may seem to be only a small portion of every individual’s entire noise exposure each year. Neitzel, being an occupational hygienist, said that he expected that the main problems in extreme noise levels may be caused by the usage of trains and buses, as well as work-associated activities. Indeed, he was shocked by these results.

It was revealed that 1 out of 10 transit users had excessive noise exposures solely from transit use. Nonetheless, after they approximated the total annual exposure from all sources, they found that 90% of transit users and 87% of non-users, mainly because of MP3 and stereo listening, had been exposed to beyond normal noise levels. Additionally, Neitzel articulated that it is striking to know that 2 of 3 individuals gained most of the noise exposure from music. He said that it is really inadequate to concentrate only on the work environment since many of the noises can be found anywhere.

Neitzel agreed that these results presented staggering repercussions. He added that in other cases, people would not allow exposure to any hazardous agent just like if it can cause chronic disease or malignancy; however, we exceed beyond the normal with noise for some reason. Furthermore, the investigators originally sought to determine the common noise sources’ contribution to the sum yearly noise exposures among urban dwellers. These sources included occupational and non-occupational activities, mass transit use, MP3 player and stereo use, and home miscellaneous activities. They explored the culprit for the bulk of harmful exposures in 4, 500 New York City residents who were public transport users.

The researchers gathered these data about the noise levels together with the source from their study: (a) 72-81 decibels from transit usage; (b) 60 decibels from average speaking level; (c) 80 decibels from a busy street corner; (d) 90 from a circular saw; and (e) 115 from a crying baby. The exposure means nothings with any exposure from the environment, until scientists identify the length of exposure. Also, the pain threshold is approximately 125; even a short, 1-time exposure beyond that can lead to permanent hearing loss.

Finally, Neitzel commented that many people seem to have harmful noise exposures and several studies presented that noise can result to stress, sleep disturbance, and cardiac disease. Noise is now a contributing factor for developing common health concerns in developed countries currently. In the past, this had not been given attention to, but now this necessitates a program on public health education.




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