Preventing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
By Jerome E. Spear, CSP, CIH
Noise, or unwanted sound, is a by-product of many industrial processes. Sound consists of pressure changes in a medium (usually air), caused by vibration or turbulence. These pressure changes produce waves emanating away from the turbulent or vibrating source. Exposure to high levels of noise causes hearing loss and may also put stress on other parts of the body. The extent of damage depends primarily on the intensity of the noise and the duration of exposure.
Noise-induced hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. Temporary hearing loss results from short-term exposures to noise, with normal hearing returning after a period of rest. Generally, prolonged exposure to high noise levels over a period of time gradually causes permanent damage. For most effects of noise, there is no cure. Therefore, controlling exposure to excessive noise is the only way to preserve your hearing.
This paper summarizes the potential health effects of noise, applicable workplace noise exposure standards and regulations. Noise measuring methods are also described.
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