Methods for evaluating temporal trends in noise exposure
Published Date:Mar 2014
Source:Int J Audiol. 53(0 2):S76-S83.
Pubmed Central ID:PMC4067129
Funding:R01 AG026291/AG/NIA NIH HHS/United States
R01OH01013202/OH/NIOSH CDC HHS/United States
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 and study sample
Utilizing a large dataset (>10,000 measurements over 20 years) from eight facilities operated by a multinational aluminum manufacturing company, we evaluated several approaches to assessing temporal trends in Time Weighted Average (TWA) exposures and the fraction of measurements exceeding 85 dBA by facility, by exposure group within facility, and by individual worker within facility.
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.
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.
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