Study shows long-term noise exposure during commute may lead to hearing loss


Photo: balticmedia, Pixabay

A new study says noise levels that commuters experience on their trip to school or work are enough to cause long-term hearing loss and other health problems if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time.

Using measuring devices attached to their collars, researchers from the University of Toronto collected noise data in the city on weekdays between April and August 2016, while riding subways, buses, streetcars, and bikes or walking.

The found that the recommended limit on noise exposure was exceeded in nine percent of subway measurements, 12 percent of bus measurements and 14 percent of biking measurements.

The authors of the study warn that sudden exposure to loud noises may cause more than deafness.

We are now starting to understand that chronic excessive noise exposure leads to significant systemic pathology, such as depression, anxiety, increased risk of chronic diseases and increased accident risk,” one of the study authors, Dr. Vincent Lin, an associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine and associate scientist at Sunnybrook Hospital told the Daily Mail.

“Short intense noise exposure has been demonstrated to be as injurious as longer, less intense noise exposure.

“We were surprised at the overall average noise exposure commuters experience on a daily basis, especially the peak noise intensity not only on trains but also on buses.

“Planners need to be more considerate of noise exposure in future planning of public spaces and public transit routes.”

According to thresholds recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to 114 A-weighted decibels for more than four seconds, exposure to 117dBA for more than two seconds and exposure to 120 dBA for more than 290 seconds may result to noise-induced hearing loss.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

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