224969 Workplace noise exposure in orchestra musicians

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

June Romeo, PhD , Center for Performing Arts Health and Research, Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, OH
Peter Landgren, Director, Conservatory of Music , Conservatory of Music, Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, OH
Delbert Martin Raymond, RN, PhD , School of Nursing, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI
More people are afflicted with noise-induced hearing loss than all other occupational injuries combined, making it the leading occupational disease and a serious public health issue. Ten million Americans have permanent hearing impairment attributable to workplace noise exposure, and although it has been documented in symphony orchestra musicians, little is known about actual workplace sound pressure levels to which orchestra musicians are exposed, leading to difficulties in planning prevention. The difficulty of evaluating the risk of NIHL for orchestra musicians is more complex and problematical than for other industrial exposure due to the significant variation in sound levels and exposure times. Because sound itself is the workplace product, musicians have vocational hearing demands much greater than those required in most professions. They must be able to do more than understand conversational speech. Consequently, the music performance environment poses not only critical hearing demands, but also noise hazards. A musician is subjected to two noise sources: his own instrument as well as those of others in close proximity. This study utilized a custom designed wireless personal noise dosimeter, not currently available to the public, to measure noise exposure at the level of the ear, resulting in data heretofore available. The device is the size of a standard behind- the-ear hearing aid, and logs sound pressure levels in 3 decibel increments, resolving time values in one second intervals. Study subjects were professional musicians and results demonstrated exposure to decibel levels greater than 125 for periods greater than current allowable exposure.

Learning Areas:
Clinical medicine applied in public health
Occupational health and safety
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify two sources of noise in the orchestral environment subjecting musicians to NIHL risk. 2. Develop an assessment plan for workplace noise exposure in orchestra musicians. 3. Formulate two means of decreasing exposure of workplace noise in orchestra musicians.

Keywords: Occupational Exposure, Occupational Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: The study utilizes a custom designed wireless personal noise dosimeter currently under investigational use.

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the founder and C-Director of the Center for Performing Arts Health & Research, and my research results have been published in peer-reviewed journals. I develop and oversee programs in the field of performing arts medicine. I hold a doctorage in sociology, as well as a clinical degree.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.