Noisy Commutes Could Cause Long-Lasting Damage

From Drugs.com - December 4, 2017

Noisy Commutes Could Cause Long-Lasting Damage

MONDAY, Dec. 4, 2017 -- Regularly riding public transit could be taking a toll on your hearing.

New research warns that though the noise commuters are exposed to is usually within recommended limits, repeated exposure to occasional bursts of loud noise can harm hearing over time.

"We now are starting to understand that chronic excessive noise exposure leads to significant systemic pathology, such as depression, anxiety, increased risk of chronic diseases and increased accident risk," said study author Dr. Vincent Lin.

"Short, intense noise exposure has been demonstrated to be as injurious as longer, less intense noise exposure," said Lin, an otolaryngologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto.

"This study is the first to look at and quantify the amount of noise people are exposed to during their daily commute," he noted.

For their study, Lin and his colleagues explored the impact of noise exposure on hearing among Toronto commuters on that city's subways, trams and buses, as well as while walking, biking or driving.

To track noise exposure, the researchers monitored wearable "noise dosimeters" that measured noise levels about 2 inches from the wearer's ears.

Nearly 20 percent of the loudest noises recorded in the city's subway system were greater than 114 decibels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that exposure to noise at 114 decibels for more than four seconds can harm hearing.

One-fifth of the loudest noises recorded in Toronto streetcars were greater than 120 decibels, the study found. The EPA says exposure to that level of noise for more than 20 seconds can damage hearing.


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