Facts About Occupational Noise Exposure
- Approximately 30 million people are exposed to hazardous levels of noise on the job.
- Noise induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells found in the inner ear. Hair cells are small sensory cells that convert the sounds we hear into electrical signals sent to the brain.
- Once damaged, our hair cells cannot grow back, causing permanent hearing loss.
- Untreated hearing loss can affect your ability to understand speech and can negatively impact your social and emotional well-being—hearing impairment can decrease your quality of life.
- Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States.
- Harmful sounds are (1) too loud and last too long or (2) are very loud and sudden. For example, exposure to a one-time intense “impulse” sound such as an explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud sounds over an extended period of time, such as sitting too close during a concert (rock, country, symphony, or any genre of music) may be harmful.
Noise is dangerous if:
- You have to shout over background noise to be heard
- The noise is painful to your ears
- The noise makes your ears ring
- You have decreased or “muffled” hearing for several hours after exposure
Protect Your Hearing
Wear hearing protection such as ear plugs and earmuffs when being exposed to levels of noise over 85 decibels (dB) for extended periods of time.