New Research Blows the Whistle on Noise Hazards in Sports Venues

Release No. SPR-13-0111-01

Kathryn Grandstaff, AIHA Communications
(703) 846-0700;

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) examines noise exposures among spectators, workers in hockey arenas; officials’ whistle use also addressed

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (January 11, 2013) — Two papers published in the Journal of
Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) address noise hazards in sports venues. Noise
controls are often enforced only when workers have been exposed to noise levels beyond
recognized standards, and only in workplaces and industries known for frequent noise exposure,
such as manufacturing and construction. However, high noise levels in any workplace put
employees at risk for noise-induced hearing loss, including nontraditional fields such as sports
arenas and venues. The two articles appear in the January issue of JOEH.
The first article, “Occupational and Recreational Noise Exposure from Indoor Arena Hockey
Games,” studies noise exposures at arenas during collegiate and semi-professional hockey games.
The research revealed that a significant number of workers and attendees within the arenas were
exposed to harmful noise levels. The research may provide a foundation for noise control
implementation in indoor sports arenas. The article is available at
The second article, “Sports Officials’ Hearing Status: Whistle Use as a Factor Contributing to
Hearing Trouble,” examines hearing loss among sports officials. Researchers conducted a survey
regarding officials’ exposure to whistle noise and subsequent symptoms of hearing loss and
tinnitus. Findings from the survey and related study suggest that whistle contributes to hearing
loss among sports officials. The article is available at
“These two papers describe a health hazard – high noise levels causing permanent hearing loss –
that is prevalent but pretty much unappreciated in the world of sports,” said JOEH Editor in Chief
Mark Nicas, PhD, CIH. “While severe traumatic injuries and degenerative brain disorders due to
concussive blows are recognized as severe hazards among athletes, exposure to high noise likely
affects far more individuals (spectators and referees), and the resulting permanent hearing loss
decreases the quality of life of those affected. We hope these papers will alert the sports world to
explore preventive measures.”
JOEH is published jointly by the American Industrial Hygiene Association® (AIHA) and
ACGIH®. JOEH enhances the knowledge and practice of occupational and environmental

hygiene and safety. It provides a written medium for the communication of ideas, methods, processes, and research in the areas of occupational, industrial, and environmental hygiene; exposure assessment; engineering controls; occupational and environmental epidemiology, medicine, and toxicology; ergonomics; and other related disciplines.

​About AIHA®

Founded in 1939, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) is the premier association of occupational and environmental health and safety professionals. AIHA’s 10,000 members play a crucial role on the front line of worker health and safety every day. Members represent a cross-section of industry, private business, labor, government and academia.