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State of the Art in Hearing Protection Research is Addressed by Scientists in Special Journal Issue


March 7, 2011
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser, (202) 245-0645

Leading experts from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) contribute to this month’s special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Noise and Health on state-of-the-art research on hearing protection devices. Hearing protectors such as earplugs are used in hearing conservation programs to prevent work-related hearing loss where dangerous workplace noise exposures have not yet been controlled or eliminated.

Rickie R. Davis, a NIOSH senior research scientist, is guest editor for the special March-April 2011 issue of the journal and lead author on an article. In addition to Rickie R. Davis, other NIOSH scientists who are lead authors or co-authors of articles in the issue are David C. Byrne, Janet J. Ehlers, Pamela S. Graydon, William J. Murphy, Peter B. Shaw, Carol Merry Stephenson, and Mark R. Stephenson.

Repeated exposures to loud noise can lead to permanent, incurable hearing loss or tinnitus. Work-related hearing loss is irreversible but preventable. An estimated 30 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to levels of noise that pose risks for work-related hearing loss.

“Hearing protectors are critical components of hearing-loss prevention in many workplaces, but in order to offer adequate protection, they must be selected and used properly,” NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D., noted. “NIOSH and its partners lead national research to develop findings and recommendations that help health and safety professionals, employers, and workers to make those important decisions.”

The March-April issue of Noise and Health is available online at The articles present latest findings in areas where new research is vital for addressing challenges that practitioners, employers, and workers can face in choosing and using proper hearing protection. These include:

  • Proper fit testing of hearing protectors.
  • Determining the performance of different types of hearing protectors in reducing noise exposure.
  • Addressing potential discomfort from hearing protectors, which can be an impediment to their proper use.
  • Developing appropriate, effective training programs for use of hearing protectors.

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations to prevent work-related injury, illness, and death. It works with diverse partners to stimulate, design, carry out, and evaluate innovative research to control workplace noise and prevent work-related hearing loss, and to help move research findings into workplace practice. More information is available at