Chronic exposure to high noise is a known causal factor for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), and NIHL is among the most common occupational diseases in the US and globally. However, despite our understanding of the general relationship between noise exposure and NIHL, gaps remain in our understanding of exposures and health risks associated with noise.
One of the primary gaps is lack of information about noise exposures associated with particular occupations. Noise exposure is thought to be among the most common occupational exposures in both developed and developing nations. However, in the United States, the last serious efforts at surveying and evaluating occupational noise exposures took place in the early 1980s, and Canadian efforts are equally dated. As a result, there are no standardized and comprehensive data available regarding occupational noise exposures in these two nations.
To address this problem, Dr. Rick Neitzel and his team in the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences are working to develop a US/Canada Job Exposure Matrix (JEM) for noise. The Noise JEM will allow for the estimation of workplace noise exposures on a national scale.