Noise Exposure

Hearing loss from noise exposure is the one and only type of hearing loss that can be prevented. Some people think that only noise from industry is damaging to our hearing but any loud sound, such as music (including an iPod), is damaging to our hearing.

Some researchers believe that when today’s children grow up they will need hearing aids 20 years earlier than today’s grandparent’s do because of more frequent exposure to loud music and noisy recreational pastimes such as snowmobiles, seadoos and motor sports.

Recent studies have found that the incidence of noise-induced hearing loss in children in the USA is 12.5%. This is a higher incidence of hearing loss than that of the general population which is 10%.

It is interesting to note that the standards for allowable noise exposure (time in loud noise) were developed to be used in industry (such as factories) for adult ears. To date there are no regulations for safe exposure to loud sounds for children! In fact, current Canadian legislation allows children’s toys to be made with a maximum noise level of 100 dB!

In May of 2008 the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA) participated in a press conference held by Member of Parliament, Judy Wasylycia-Leis who introduced a private member’s bill advocating the reduction of allowable noise decibel level in toys from the current 100 dB to 75 dB.  See the CASLPA website for further information visit www.caslpa.ca on this topic.

A hearing conservation program, developed in the USA, was created to help children learn (and to help teachers teach) about hearing and the hazards of noise.  Dangerous Decibels ® is a program who’s “mission is to significantly reduce the prevalence of noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) through exhibits, educational outreach and research.”  This program has an interactive website for children and a teaching program for teachers. A site well worth a visit!