Horn, Percussion Orchestral Players at Highest NIHL Risk

A study published in the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics measured sound pressure levels as four orchestras performed, then estimated the risk of hearing loss for someone exposed over 40 years of employment.

A study published in the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics (JOSE) found that horn, trumpet, tuba, and percussion players in concert orchestras are at highest risk of suffering noise-induced hearing loss from their work. The authors measured sound pressure levels as one opera orchestra and three symphony orchestras performed, finding the musicians usually are exposed to sound at the equivalent continuous A-weighted sound pressure levels of 81 to 90 dB for 20 to 45 hours per week.

Someone working for 40 years at such exposures may suffer hearing loss of up to 26 percent, Malgorzata Pawlaczyk-Luszczynska, Adam Dudarewicz, Malgorzata Zamojska, and Mariola Sliwinska-Kowalska concluded in their study, which is published on pages 255-269 of the journal's Vol. 17, No. 3, an issue devoted mainly to hearing protection papers.

Another paper in the issue examined the effect on performers of wearing musicians' ear plugs. Silicon, custom-molded plugs with acoustic filters reduced sound pressure levels experienced by the performers by 5 to 15 dB, the authors found.

The issue includes a paper on noise variability inside an underground coal mine and a case study on railway noise in Europe. Directive 2002/49/EC requires European countries to measure environmental noise levels in heavily populated areas, and the case study's authors examine the Dutch SRM II scheme and three other national methods for measuring rail traffic noise.

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