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Help the Heart—Keep the Noise Down

Recent data on workplace noise show a significant association with heart disease and overall worker health.


 

Loud noise is one of the most common workplace hazards in the US. One-quarter of US workers (an estimated 41 million people) report a history of noise exposure at work—and that may put them at risk for heart disease. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are more common among workers exposed to loud noise at work.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers analyzed data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey to estimate the prevalence of occupational noise exposure, hearing difficulty, and heart conditions within US industries and occupations. They also looked at the association between workplace noise exposure and heart disease. Their analysis showed:

  • 25% of current workers had a history of work-related noise exposure, 14% were exposed in the last year;
  • 12% of current workers had hearing difficulty, 24% had high blood pressure, 28% had high cholesterol; and
  • Of those cases 58%, 14%, and 9%, respectively, can be attributed to occupational noise exposure.

Study coauthor Liz Masterson, PhD, says, “If noise could be reduced to safer levels in the workplace, more than 5 million cases of hearing difficulty among noise-exposed workers could potentially be prevented.”

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