Public Transit Commuters Regularly Exposed to Excessive Noise, Study Finds Commuting on public transportation may mean an increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Mass-transit commuters on at least one city’s subway system regularly experience noise levels that can damage hearing, according to researchers from the University of Toronto. Published in the Journal of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, the study ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   March 01, 2018
Public Transit Commuters Regularly Exposed to Excessive Noise, Study Finds
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Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   March 01, 2018
Public Transit Commuters Regularly Exposed to Excessive Noise, Study Finds
The ASHA Leader, March 2018, Vol. 23, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.23032018.14
The ASHA Leader, March 2018, Vol. 23, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.23032018.14
Commuting on public transportation may mean an increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Mass-transit commuters on at least one city’s subway system regularly experience noise levels that can damage hearing, according to researchers from the University of Toronto.
Published in the Journal of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, the study measured noise levels from the Toronto Mass Transit system from several sources: aboard subways, streetcars and buses, and on boarding platforms. Researchers collected measurements via small noise dosimeters attached to their shirt collars.

“Those short bursts of sudden noise, if exposed to repeatedly and over a long period of time, may lead to permanent hearing loss.”

Although the researchers concluded that mean average noise levels were within the recommended level of safe noise, they found that up to 20 percent of subway measurements had mean peak noises greater than 114 dBA, and up to 85 percent of bus platform measurements exceeded that threshold, with 54 percent greater than 120 dBA. This exposure may place commuters at greater risk of developing NIHL.
“Those short bursts of sudden noise, if exposed to repeatedly and over a long period of time, may lead to permanent hearing loss,” says Vincent Lin, senior author and researcher with the University of Toronto Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
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March 2018
Volume 23, Issue 3