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Echo Barrier Blog

National Save Your Hearing Day, 31st May

Posted by Tom Peary on May 24, 2018 10:40:00 AM | Acoustic Barriers|Construction Related

A recent study has found that a healthy diet can reduce a woman's risk of hearing loss. But on National Save Your Hearing Day we look at other ways to protect your ears.

Research carried out by Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that those following an overall healthy diet had a lower risk of hearing loss. The scientists analyzed data from nearly 71,000 women over 22 years and found that those whose eating habits most closely resembled the Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED) or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) were 30% less likely to suffer than those whose eating habits were least like those diets. The AMED diet features extra virgin olive oil, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and moderate intake of alcohol.
The DASH diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy, while restricting salt. The researchers can't show a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Still, "eating well contributes to overall good health, and it may also be helpful in reducing the risk of hearing loss," the report’s author said in a hospital news release.

The scale of the problem About 20% of Americans - 48 million - report some degree of hearing loss. At age 65, one out of three people has some sort of hearing loss. What’s more 60% of the people with hearing loss are either in the work force or in educational settings. Previous studies have repeatedly linked occupational noise exposure and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). And the problem among construction workers is particularly prolific.  

Protect yourself There’s no reason why you shouldn’t embrace a healthy diet as part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle. But protecting your hearing is about a lot more than having plenty of fresh fruit and veg – especially if you work in the built environment. Hardhats, safety-orange vests, steel-toed boots, protective eyewear – these are commonplace for those who build and repair our roads and raise our skyscrapers to awe-inspiring heights.
But many hard-working builders experience hearing loss due to long-term exposure to noise on construction sites. Loud noises cause hearing loss by damaging the stereocilia: tiny hairs that sit on the top of hair cells in the inner ear. Noise makes them vibrate – changing the voltage in the hair cells – which then sends chemical messages through nerves to the brain. Battering your stereocilia will damage your hearing. The longer the exposure, the louder the noise, the closer the worker to the noise source - all factors among others that contribute to this unnecessary problem.  

Solutions The US Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) has determined safe noise levels and has made recommendations that specific ear protection devices be worn within sound levels of 85dB. Even that's loud. The simple truth is construction sites are noisy places. So, one thing construction companies can do is provide their susceptible workers with appropriate ear protection. In fact, it's the law that companies provide appropriate ear protection when noise reaches "an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit of 90 dB". Hearing protection devices are not the only area which should be explored.

Our acoustic barriers work but providing a sound barrier between a construction site and the local community. They can also be used as enclosures to isolate on-going loud sounds from the work crew.

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