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Updated: 03/05/2018 09:04:03AM

Teachers and noise-induced hearing loss

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Roseann Kiefer

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When we think of occupations that can cause noise-induced hearing loss we usually think of those that include machines and equipment. The daily use of hand tools and heavy equipment in the construction industry usually comes to the forefront. Years of working in a factory with machines humming all day, truck drivers, and lawn care companies also expose workers to constant noise that may cause a hearing loss.

Research has been ongoing for several years on the noise levels that teachers are exposed to and the effects that it has on their hearing. All day long, teachers listen to bells ringing, kids screaming, and lockers slamming constantly. There is choir and band, shop class, the cafeteria and, of course, the gym. While the students will get to change classes and get a break from specific noises, the teaches are exposed to it for sometimes 10-12 hours per day. Often, the sounds exceed safe listening levels. Recent research by the Danish Centre of Educational Environment shows that hearing loss occurs at a younger age in the teaching profession: 26 percent have difficulty hearing as compared to 17 percent in other noisy occupations. The age range used for the study was individuals under the age of 40. Sound level measurements in choir, industrial arts rooms and gymnasiums often exceed 90 decibels, which exceed OSHA standards for safe listening levels. The louder an environment, the quicker the damage occurs to your hearing.

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