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Home > Resources > The Synergist > SynergistNOW Blog > Posts > News Roundup: NIOSH App Grabs Headlines
News Roundup: NIOSH App Grabs Headlines

By Kay Bechtold

Have you heard? Noise is back in the news: social media is still buzzing about the new NIOSH Sound Level Meter mobile app that became available for iOS devices last month. Here's what some Twitter users have to say about the app:

The app, which reports instantaneous sound levels in A-, C-, or Z-weighted decibels, is free to download and was designed for industrial hygienists, occupational health and safety managers, and workers who may not have access to professional sound measurement instruments. NIOSH hopes the app will help raise workers’ awareness about noise exposure and occupational noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). 

NIOSH Sound Level Meter app.JPG 
NIOSH's Sound Level Meter App. Photo courtesy of NIOSH.

A recent CDC analysis of national survey data suggests that NIHL may affect nearly one in four adults in the U.S. Outlets from HealthDay News to NBC News are discussing CDC’s report under headlines such as “For Millions of Americans, Everyday Life Takes Toll on Their Hearing” and “Hearing Loss at 20? CDC Says It’s More Common Than You Think.” CDC researchers analyzed audiograms as well as data generated by hearing-related questions from a 2011–2012 survey of a nationally representative sample of Americans. Extrapolating the data to the national population suggests that 39.4 million Americans, or 24 percent of the total U.S. population, have some degree of NIHL. Those exposed to loud noise at work were twice as likely to have NIHL.

Military personnel are exposed to impulsive noise “at levels and durations far exceeding what has been deemed safe for the civilian work force”—so writes Bruce Amrein in the November 2016 Synergist in one of two recent features on occupational noise in the military. Amrein, a guest researcher at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, outlined recently revised military standards that address steady-state and impulsive noise.

Is impulse noise a “deaf spot” for industrial hygienists? In the January 2017 Synergist, author Corey Bender describes challenges that IHs face with impulse noise hazards, especially as they relate to military personnel. These challenges include difficulties in accurately measuring impulse noise peaks and ethics-related obstacles to studying the effects of impulse noise on hearing. Further complicating efforts to protect hearing is the fact that each branch of the military evaluates the risk of impulse noise differently. Bender notes that, as of January 2017, subject matter experts still had not agreed on damage risk criteria for impulse noise.

Later this year, the Synergist staff plans to publish an article containing practical suggestions on approaches to sampling for noise. What other noise-related topics would you be interested in reading about in The Synergist or AIHA’s e-newsletter, The Synergist Weekly?

Kay Bechtold is assistant editor of The Synergist. 


Hearing Loss and Dementia

I have recently attended a seminar on this topic and can explain two aspects here:  1)  Hearing loss that is untreated can result in social isolation, which is a known causal factor of dementia; 2)  The parts of the brain involved with hearing undergo accelerated brain tissue loss (i.e., atrophy) when there is a reduced signal coming from the inner ear.  It is now understood through functional MRI (fMRI) that the parts of the brain that serve hearing also serve other functions and that  atrophy of these parts results in an increased risk of dementia.  In fact, untreated severe hearing loss is linked to a 5-fold increased risk of dementia.  This research finding means that hearing loss (occupational and non-occupational) is much more of a wellness issue than we have assumed.  See articles by Dr. Li-Korotky
 on 3/1/2017 2:23 PM by Richard W Murphy | Flag comment for inappropriate content

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