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Planet of Sound

Published in The ASHA Leader, May 2013

In a world where noise never stops, hearing threats bombard us every day. Take a tour of some of America’s noisiest environments—and bring your earplugs.

Noise pervades our society. The booms, screeches and reverberations of traffic, manufacturing, construction and airplanes can’t be avoided in daily life. And the onslaught is magnified for those whose jobs require noisy tools and tasks: soldiers and police officers firing guns and sounding sirens, farmers and factory workers running heavy machinery, or airport workers directing thundering jets.

But one person’s unpleasant noise may be another’s sought-after sound: Concerts, restaurants and bars, movies, and sporting events all generate high noise levels—some loud enough to damage hearing, especially with prolonged exposure.

No matter how “noise” is defined—as loud, discordant, unharmonious, unpleasant, undesired, unexpected or simply something that interferes with hearing—none of these definitions truly characterizes noise’s effects on human beings. Many offending stimuli affect not only our hearing but also our well-being: Noise exposure has been implicated in cases of sleep disturbance, heart disease and hypertension, among other adverse effects.

See entire article here.

App-titude: Get Smart About Noise

Published in The ASHA Leader, May 2013

by: Angela Adrian, MA, CCC-SLP and Maureen Fischer, MS, CCC-A

Over the course of eight hours one recent Saturday, my family and I attended a Division 1 NCAA basketball game and later, my son’s talent show in his grade school gym. I was prepared for the elevated sound pressure levels and range of frequencies at the game, from crowd noise to the throbbing bass of piped-in music, and recorded sound pressure levels as high as 95 dBA during especially loud moments.

But I was caught off-guard by the noise levels at the grade school production. As the talent show progressed, a soloist took the stage and belted out what would have been an impressive vocal effort without amplification. Combined with the band’s runaway volume and the unforgivingly hard acoustics of the cinderblock gymnasium, I clocked her amplified vocal at a whopping 97 dBA—significantly higher than my highest reading in the basketball arena earlier that day.

I used to carry a traditional sound-level meter to various hearing screening sites, in a suitcase too big to carry onto an airplane. Obviously, it’s not feasible to bring such a device to a basketball game or talent show. But after installing a sound meter application on my smartphone, I can objectively measure the sound pressure level in any situation. So what did I do in the gym? I pulled out my phone, of course, and measured the noise.

See entire article here.


AIHA Ear Plug Fit Testing Event on Friday, April 19, 2013

Sarah Ervin, Au.D., CCC-A of Workplace Integra, Inc. will be speaking at 10:15am, Friday, April 19th at The Alabama Local AIHA ear plug fit testing event.

Topic: Hearing Protection Device (HPD) Field Attenuation Estimation Systems (FAES) also known as Earplug Fit Testing. Learn from the experts and get hands on experience with the use of FAES systems.

Date: Friday April, 19th 2013

Location: Vulcan Materials Company Corporate Office 1200 Urban Center Dr, Birmingham, AL 35242

Registration is required to take part in this event and space is limited. Cost for Alabama Local AIHA Section member is $25 click here or for Non-Alabama Local AIHA Section member $35 click here. If anyone would like to sponsor the event or make a donation payments can be made at click here.

Breakfast and Lunch will be provided as part of your registration!

Please register by end of business on 4/16/2013.  This will facilitate the catering order.

  • Free for Students thanks to a donation by the Deep South Center for OH&S
  • Alabama Local AIHA Section member $25 click here
  • Non-Alabama Local AIHA Section member $35 click here

Click here for more information.

Workplace INTEGRA CAOHC Refresher at AAOHN in Las Vegas!

Cheryl Nadeau with Workplace Integra, Inc. in Greensboro, NC will be teaching a CAOHC Refresher Course in conjunction with the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) Conference at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

The CAOHC Refresher Class will take place:

Sunday April 14th from  8-5 PM
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
3708 Las Vegas Blvd, South Las Vegas, NV 89109
Reservations: 855-435-0005 or 702-698-7575

You can sign up for this class through AAOHN.

Download all the educational offerings at AAOHN in Las Vegas.

Please contact AAOHN with any questions.


Bigger Caliber, Bigger Boom

by Michael Stewart, The ASHA Leader

Skeet and trap shooting. Target practice. Cowboy action shooting. Wild game hunting. These are popular leisure-time activities in America, where the citizenry owns more firearms than in any other country in the world. An estimated 70 million Americans own more than 270 million firearms, according to a 2007 issue of Small Arms Survey. And several states have hunting laws allowing children as young as age 10 to hunt when accompanied by an adult family member.

But even as firearms provide people with recreational opportunities, they also can cause significant noise-induced hearing loss with associated tinnitus unless shooters wear proper hearing protection. According to recent studies, relatively few of them do.

See entire article here.

2 Loud Crew? Bloomberg targets NYC teens who blast music through their ear buds

By M. Alex Johnson, staff writer, NBC News

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — who banned 16-ounce sodas, trans fats in restaurants and public smoking — has a new bug in his ear: young people who play their music too loud through their headphones.

The city’s spending a quarter-million dollars to launch a Hearing Loss Prevention Media Campaign warning young people through social media and focus groups about the risk of losing their hearing, The New York Post reported Wednesday.

View entire article here.

Workplace Integra has a new look!

Workplace Integra located in Greensboro, NC providing services to support your hearing conservation & health data management needs has unveiled a new web site.  Check out our new website design with enhanced features for easier browsing.


On the new web site, you can find information on the following services:

•Mobile Audiometric Services
•Workplace Applications Software
•Hearing Test Analysis and Work-Relatedness Determination by Certified Audiologists •On-Site Hearing Conservation Consulting by Certified Audiologists •Noise Surveys •CAOHC-approved Occupational Hearing Conservationist training courses •NIOSH-approved Spirometry training •INTEGRAfit – Quantitative Earplug Fit-Testing •INTEGRAstat – Web-Based Corporate Reporting •Audiometric and Pulmonary Equipment

NIOSH and NHCA present 2013 Safe–in–Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA), is pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss.  This year’s winners come from the manufacturing sector and the educational field.  Presented at the 38th Annual Hearing Conservation Conference on February 22, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Florida, the awards honor organizations that have shown dedication to excellence in hearing loss prevention, practices in the work environment and beyond.

2013 Safe-in-Sound Award Winners and Organization Representatives:

Awarded on February 22, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Florida at the National Hearing Conservation Association annual conference.

First Row Left to Right:  Linda Howarth (Dangerous Decibels); William “Billy” Martin (Dangerous Decibels; Andy Perkins (Vulcan Materials); Kelly Bailey (Vulcan Materials); Jeanne Virtue (Johns Manville); Barb Menard (Johns Manville).

Second Row Left to Right: Pam Graydon (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health); Deanna Meinke (Dangerous Decibels); Thais Morata (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health); Judy Sobel (Dangerous Decibels); Susan Griest (Dangerous Decibels); Rick Neitzel (Safe-in-Sound Committee); John Franks (Safe-in-Sound Committee); Laura Kauth (National Hearing Conservation Association);

Back Row Left to Right: Dr. John Howard (Director, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health); Ga-Lo Vann (Dangerous Decibels); James Lankford (Safe-in-Sound Committee).


Cheryl’s Hearing Conservation Training Tips

For this blog entry we will discuss how we can know if a worker with hearing impairment can hear alarms.
The question:

I have an employee that has moderately-severe hearing loss bilaterally in the high frequencies, moderate low frequency loss in the right ear, and mild low frequency loss in the left.  I have requested information about the sound levels of alarms in the area he will be working in, but I was curious as to how to calculate if he will be able to hear the alarms once he is wearing hearing protection.  My instinct is the level of the alarm, minus the NRR rating, and if it is greater than his loss levels, he should be able to hear it?

There are a lot of variables in this question. So let’s fill in the blanks for one scenario.

1. Let’s look at the sound frequency of the alarm system. Frequencies below 1,000 Hz are masked easier by low frequency noise; frequencies greater than 2,000 Hz need louder volume levels to be heard due to the employee’s hearing loss.

2. We don’t know the type signal the alarm is using.  It could be pulsed, like horn beeps or a continuous steady state tone.  Intermittent sounds are more recognizable than steady state tones.

3. We don’t know the background noise level in the work area. A comfortable listening level would be 6 dBA above background noise levels. Since this is an alarm, I would think it would need to be 10-12 dBA or greater to be recognized as such. But the signal should not be so loud as to elicit a startle effect, thereby increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and stress in general.

4. We do know the employee has a hearing loss.
So let’s go at it this way. Since the most comfortable listening level is 6 dBA above background noise, and we suspect that 10 dBA would be sufficiently loud enough to be a good warning alarm, then the attenuation of the hearing protector (HP) would lower both the warning alarm and background noise about the same. So one method of calculating the attenuation of the hearing protector is to subtract 7 from the NRR, and then divide by two (in case of loose fit). To apply, say the work area is 90 dBA and the hearing protector has a NRR of 31.  90 dBA less HP attenuation (31-7=24/2=12), and (90-12=78).  With HP inserted 78 dBA would be the loudness level of the background noise at the eardrum. The warning signal would be presented at 88 dBA if the signal to noise ratio was 10, or the alarm was 10 dB greater than the background noise (90-12+10=88).  Since we suspect the employee will be able to hear an 88 dBA signal level, it should work.

Of course a cheap shot is to put the hearing protection on the employee and ask them if they can hear the alarm system and if it is sufficient to alert them to danger.

Courtesy of George Cook, Au.D., Occupational Audiologist