Did you know that hearing loss is the number one disability among veterans? Our members of the military can be subjected to loud noise that can cause hearing loss at any time, even in of-duty areas. The Department of Defense has an ongoing focus on protecting the United States service members from hearing loss as a result of loud noise. There are several different research studies currently ongoing.
Naval Medical Research Unit
Researchers from the Naval Medical Research Unit - Dayton’s (NAMRU-Dayton) Environmental Health Effects Laboratory (EHEL) have been the team evaluating the impact of military-relevant 24 hour noise exposures on hearing loss. They are in the process of developing a system that examines steady and impulse noise exposure for 24 hours a day with the variable of chemical exposure for a portion of that time vs. a control group with no chemical exposure. Auditory testing is also being expanded to include assessments on peripheral and central hearing. All in all, this team is committed to protecting the hearing of the military members and will hopefully continue to uncover helpful information that will help combat noise-induced hearing loss.
Navy In-House Laboratory Independent Research Program
The Navy In-House Laboratory Independent Research Program (ILIR) is studying the effects of elevated steady noise levels during a recovery period. To do this, they are conducting research over long periods of time that include eight hour high noise exposures at the occupational limit of 85 decibels and then simulating an off-duty shift in shipboard environments. Since navy officers and crew are on ships 24/7 during service, their ears don’t get a break from the shipboard noises, even when off-duty. The studies have shown that this type of noise exposure can impede auditory recovery and lead to permanent hearing loss after just four weeks.
Defence Health Agency
Yet another study is funded by the Defense Health Agency (DHA/J9) and focuses on the effects of steady and impulse noise exposures that occur during the day following occupationally relevant exposures in what would normally be the day after auditory recovery window. It is noted that there are many different factors that complicate the assessment process for noise exposure. The study combines noise levels and inhaled chemical exposures. This is because breathing in certain chemicals, for example, the volatile organic compounds known to be in jet fuel, it can exacerbate noise-induced hearing loss. This is why the studies are necessary in these areas and why they affect members of our military.
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