A Hearing Conservation Education Program for Music Students
About 5-10% of the hearing loss in the United States can be attributed to occupational noise exposure. Previous research has shown that music professionals are routinely exposed to hazardous levels of occupational noise. Musicians risk exposure to long durations and high intensity levels of sound while taking part in routine practices, rehearsals, and performances. For example, according to the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOSH), noise evaluation of elementary and high school music classes and rehearsals revealed that the noise level of an average rehearsing location is approximately 94 dBA, sometimes exceeding 100 dBA. In college settings, during an average week, musicians could receive higher than average exposure than non-musicians. Furthermore, musical instruments and loudspeakers, often only inches away from a musician’s ear, serve as the culprits of loud sound within these locations, putting them at risk for harmful exposure. These instruments and settings of practices and performances often exceed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) regulations, thereby leading to the irreversible effects in the peripheral auditory system and causing long term damage to hearing.
Although NIOSH has published extensive information regarding noise exposure, limits and risks of hazardous noise levels in the musical industry, and has given recommendations to reduce occupational exposure, most musicians still do not wear hearing protection while being in proximity to their instruments or the instruments of their peers. Previous research has shown that many of the musicians may not be aware of the potentially detrimental effects of the loud intensity and frequency they encounter regularly. Thus, hearing conservation and early intervention programs could be beneficial to musicians in order to increase the overall understanding of the potential harm of occupational noise exposure.
For audiologists, one of the important roles within our scope of practice is to raise awareness about the long-term effects and irreversible damage of loud noise exposure and to advocate for the importance of wearing hearing protection during occupational or recreational noise exposure. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to educate early career musicians about the deleterious effects of occupational noise exposure, as well as to examine the efficacy of a hearing conservation education program for them.
Lau, Ho Ming; Hu, Jiong; Sagarang, Kiyana; and Sienko, Natalie, "A Hearing Conservation Education Program for Music Students" (2020). All Faculty Scholarship. 133.