Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Noise Exposure Levels for Student Musicians

Vanessa L. Miller, Michael Stewart, Mark Lehman
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 22 Number 4: Page 160 (December 2007)

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Abstract: Twenty-seven student musicians were surveyed regarding musical practice and playing habits, knowledge of hearing conservation practices, use of hearing protective devices (HPD), and the occurrence of tinnitus after exposure to loud music. In addition, noise exposure levels during practice and sporting events (football and basketball games) at which they played were monitored with a dosimeter simultaneously set to measure noise levels using the OSHA (1983) and NIOSH (1998) measurement criteria. Forty-eight percent of the subjects reported practicing or playing their instrument >10 hours a week. Most musicians (74%) reported having been taught about the effects of noise on hearing and health; however, less than a third used ear protection while playing their instruments, and those who did used it inconsistently. Sixty-three percent of subjects reported experiencing tinnitus after exposure to loud music. Finally, 8-hour time-weighted averages (TWA) and daily noise doses were significantly higher using the NIOSH measurement criteria than the OSHA measurement criteria. Both measurement criteria yielded values that exceeded a 100% daily noise dose for all subjects. Overall, these results indicate that university student directors and musicians appear to be at high risk for permanent noise-induced hearing loss secondary to excessive exposure to loud music. These results support the need for on-going hearing conservation programs to educate student musicians and student directors about the dangers of excessive exposure to loud music.

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