The Use of the Kurtosis-adjusted Cumulative Noise Exposure Metric in Evaluating the Hearing Loss Risk for Complex Noise
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The Use of the Kurtosis-adjusted Cumulative Noise Exposure Metric in Evaluating the Hearing Loss Risk for Complex Noise

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  • Alternative Title:
    Ear Hear
  • Description:
    Objective To test a kurtosis-adjusted cumulative noise exposure (CNE) metric for use in evaluating the risk of hearing loss among workers exposed to industrial noises. Specifically: to evaluate if the kurtosis-adjusted CNE (1) provides a better association with observed industrial noise-induced hearing loss; (2) provides a single metric applicable to both complex (non-Gaussian) and continuous or steady-state (Gaussian) noise exposures for predicting noise induced hearing loss (dose-response curves). Design Audiometric and noise exposure data were acquired on a population of screened workers (N = 341) from two steel manufacturing plants located in Zhejiang province, and a textile manufacturing plant located in Henan province, China. All the subjects from the two steel manufacturing plants (N=178) were exposed to complex noise while the subjects from textile manufacturing plant (N=163) were exposed to a Gaussian (G) continuous noise. Each subject was given an otologic examination to determine their pure tone hearing threshold levels (HTL); and had their personal 8-hour equivalent A-weighted noise exposure (LAeq) and full shift noise kurtosis statistic (which is sensitive to the peaks and temporal characteristics of noise exposures) measured. For each subject an unadjusted and kurtosis-adjusted cumulative noise exposure (CNE) index for the years worked was created. Multiple linear regression analysis controlling for age was used to determine the relationship between CNE (unadjusted and kurtosis-adjusted) and the mean HTL at 3, 4 and 6 kHz (HTL346) among the complex noise exposed group. Results Multiple linear regression analysis among complex exposed workers demonstrated that the correlation between HTL3,4,6 and CNE controlling for age was improved when using the kurtosis-adjusted CNE compared to the unadjusted CNE (R2=0.386 vs. 0.350), and that noise accounted for a greater proportion of hearing loss. In addition, while dose-response curves for AHFNIHL were distinctly different when using unadjusted CNE, they overlapped when using the kurtosis-adjusted CNE. Conclusions For the same exposure level, the prevalence of NIHL is greater in workers exposed to complex noise environments than for workers exposed to a continuous noise. Kurtosis adjustment of CNE both improved the correlation with NIHL and provides a single metric for dose response effects across different types of noise. The kurtosis-adjusted CNE may be a reasonable candidate for use in NIHL risk assessment across a wide variety of noise environments.
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