Background noise is everywhere, and when it’s especially loud or ongoing, it can cause irreversible damage to the ears. There are some professions where noise-induced hearing loss is somewhat expected, like in construction, military or air traffic, but some other jobs you may not expect also put hearing at risk. A recent study of bus and truck drivers found that drivers are especially at risk for developing hearing loss.
Vehicle Noise Pollution
You may think of air pollution as the only health risk coming from vehicles, but it turns out noise pollution can be harmful too. According to the World Health Organization, noise pollution is second only to air pollution regarding the impact on human health. The Environmental Protection Agency defines noise pollution as “unwanted or disturbing sound” that interferes with your normal activities or disrupts your quality of life.
Health risks of noise pollution include:
- Hearing loss
- Sleep disturbances
- Developmental delays
- Cardiovascular dysfunction
- Psychological dysfunction
While cars emit sound around 70-80 dB, buses emit sounds closer to 80-95 dB. Most of the noise from vehicles comes from three sources: the power transfer system (including the air valve, engine, exhaust system, fan and filter), tires and aerodynamics.
Study on Bus & Truck Drivers
According to an Iranian study published in the journal Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine, one in four heavy-vehicle drivers experiences hearing loss.
The study was conducted on 65,533 male heavy-vehicle drivers, including truck and intercity bus drivers in Isfahan, Iran. Researchers used pure tone air and bone conduction audiometry to test the hearing abilities of these drivers. Data was collected from February 2006 to March 2016.
They found that 26.8% of heavy-vehicle drivers had some type of hearing loss. 14.6% had hearing loss in both ears, 7.8% had hearing loss in the left ear only, and 4.4% had hearing loss in the right ear only. For most drivers with a hearing loss, the condition was mild.
While this study did not prove causation between driving heavy vehicles and hearing loss, it is statistically significant that they often go hand in hand.
If you’re a heavy-vehicle driver, contact Aaron’s Hearing Aid & Audiology Center to schedule a hearing test today!