What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)?


New research shows that excessive noise exposure is one of the leading causes of hearing loss among children 1 to 10 years of age.

Exposure to noises such as fireworks, power tools, and loud music can significantly damage the hair cells in the inner ear. This damage causes permanent hearing loss. There may be greater potential for damage to children from speakers that go directly into the ear canal as opposed to speakers that rest on the outside of the ear. Since the damage is painless and cumulative over time, the total effects may not be felt until one has reached adulthood.

In a study conducted in 2001, 12.5% of children in the U.S. alone (i.e. 5.2 million) were estimated to have Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) in one or both ears.

NIHL is preventable by identifying noise hazards, understanding how continual noise can deteriorate your hearing, being aware of what is "too loud" / "too dangerous" to be exposed to, and last but definitely not least, by using protective devices when sounds climb too high on the decibel charts – ie. are obviously hazardous to your health. Intertek Risk Assessment & Management (RAM) is working on a solution for NIHL by collaborating with external medical resources to conduct a study on how much loud and excessive noises effect children's hearing (otherwise known as a child's temporary threshold shift). A child's temporary threshold shift is a silent precursor to NIHL.

Once all actions involved in the study are approved by the Ethics Review Board (ERB) of each hospital Intertek works in collaboration with, Intertek will measure the average decibel range of 100 children ranging in age from 1 to 10 years old. After this first measurement is made, Intertek will divide the group of children into two even groups of 50. One of the groups will be exposed to music and a variety of sounds from a speaker directly placed in the ear canal (ie. as a majority of ear buds are designed today) and the remaining group will be exposed to music and loud sounds from headphones that are placed on the outside of the ears. After a significant amount of time has passed all 100 children's decibel rate at which they hear will be measured again. The comparison of both measurements for each child will help Intertek determine whether or not these products are indeed potential agents of NIHL.

The results of this particular study can then be shared with various manufacturers and other interested parties. By doing so, consumer conscious companies that value both their brand value and reputation as well as the essential safety and well being of their customers, can make products which do not cause NIHL in the future.

Source and more information: www.intertek.com.

Share this page