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“Healthy Years” Lost Due to Hearing Impairment
In a first-of-its-kind study, NIOSH researchers examined the audiograms of more than 1.4 million noise-exposed workers collected during 2003–2012 by the agency’s Occupational Hearing Loss Surveillance Project to compare the prevalence of hearing impairment across nine industry sectors: agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting; mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction; construction; manufacturing; wholesale and retail trade; transportation, warehousing, and utilities; healthcare and social assistance; public safety; and services. The study quantifies the number of disability-adjusted life years—expressed as healthy years lost due to a disease or other health condition—attributable to hearing impairment for noise-exposed workers in the U.S.
NIOSH researchers found that the mining sector had the highest prevalence of workers with any hearing impairment, and with moderate or worse impairment. The construction and manufacturing sectors were not far behind. According to the agency, this study is the first to estimate the prevalence of hearing impairment at six severity levels by industry sector.
The following information was selected from CDC’s
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
, which summarizes the study results.
From the
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
“Hearing Impairment Among Noise-Exposed Workers — United States, 2003–2012”:
“Occupational hearing loss is a permanent but entirely preventable condition with today’s hearing loss prevention strategies and technology. Concurrent with prevention efforts, early detection of hearing loss by consistent annual audiometric testing and intervention to preclude further loss (e.g., refitting hearing protection, training) are critical. Although lost hearing cannot be recovered, workers can benefit from clinical rehabilitation, which includes fitting hearing aids, learning lip-reading, and adopting other compensation strategies to optimize hearing.”
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Editor's Note: Fumes vs. Vapors
 
The original wording from the Center for Public Integrity's report "Common Solvent Keeps Killing Workers, Consumers" mistakenly refers to "fumes" in a context where "vapors" is the correct term. The Synergist has corrected this error in the digital edition.
 
Unfortunately, the error found its way into the print version of the November issue. The Synergist regrets the error and will publish a correction in the December issue.
 
Ed Rutkowski, editor