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  Citation statistics : Table of Contents
   2012| November-December  | Volume 14 | Issue 61  
    Online since December 19, 2012

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Noise-induced hearing loss
Mariola Sliwinska-Kowalska, Adrian Davis
November-December 2012, 14(61):274-280
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) still remains a problem in developed countries, despite reduced occupational noise exposure, strict standards for hearing protection and extensive public health awareness campaigns. Therefore NIHL continues to be the focus of noise research activities. This paper summarizes progress achieved recently in our knowledge of NIHL. It includes papers published between the years 2008-2011 (in English), which were identified by a literature search of accessible medical and other relevant databases. A substantial part of this research has been concerned with the risk of NIHL in the entertainment sector, particularly in professional, orchestral musicians. There are also constant concerns regarding noise exposure and hearing risk in "hard to control" occupations, such as farming and construction work. Although occupational noise has decreased since the early 1980s, the number of young people subject to social noise exposure has tripled. If the exposure limits from the Noise at Work Regulations are applied, discotheque music, rock concerts, as well as music from personal music players are associated with the risk of hearing loss in teenagers and young adults. Several recent research studies have increased the understanding of the pathomechanisms of acoustic trauma, the genetics of NIHL, as well as possible dietary and pharmacologic otoprotection in acoustic trauma. The results of these studies are very promising and offer grounds to expect that targeted therapies might help prevent the loss of sensory hair cells and protect the hearing of noise-exposed individuals. These studies emphasize the need to launch an improved noise exposure policy for hearing protection along with developing more efficient norms of NIHL risk assessment.
  45 46,265 108
Effects of environmental noise on sleep
Kenneth I Hume, Mark Brink, Mathias Basner
November-December 2012, 14(61):297-302
This paper summarizes the findings from the past 3 year's research on the effects of environmental noise on sleep and identifies key future research goals. The past 3 years have seen continued interest in both short term effects of noise on sleep (arousals, awakenings), as well as epidemiological studies focusing on long term health impacts of nocturnal noise exposure. This research corroborated findings that noise events induce arousals at relatively low exposure levels, and independent of the noise source (air, road, and rail traffic, neighbors, church bells) and the environment (home, laboratory, hospital). New epidemiological studies support already existing evidence that night-time noise is likely associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke in the elderly. These studies collectively also suggest that nocturnal noise exposure may be more relevant for the genesis of cardiovascular disease than daytime noise exposure. Relative to noise policy, new effect-oriented noise protection concepts, and rating methods based on limiting awakening reactions were introduced. The publications of WHO's ''Night Noise Guidelines for Europe'' and ''Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise'' both stress the importance of nocturnal noise exposure for health and well-being. However, studies demonstrating a causal pathway that directly link noise (at ecological levels) and disturbed sleep with cardiovascular disease and/or other long term health outcomes are still missing. These studies, as well as the quantification of the impact of emerging noise sources (e.g., high speed rail, wind turbines) have been identified as the most relevant issues that should be addressed in the field on the effects of noise on sleep in the near future.
  33 24,840 68
Noise and cardiovascular disease: A review of the literature 2008-2011
Hugh Davies, Irene Van Kamp
November-December 2012, 14(61):287-291
The association between noise and cardiovascular disease has been studied for several decades and the weight of evidence clearly supports a causal link. Nevertheless, many questions remain, such as the magnitude and threshold level for adverse effects of noise, how noise and other cardio-toxic pollutants (such as particulate matter) may interact in disease causation, identification of vulnerable populations, of exposure modifiers (i.e., location of bedrooms) and of other effect-modifiers (i.e., gender), and how epidemiologic methodology can be improved. This review describes contributions to literature over the past 3 years in the area of noise and CVD in general, with particular focus on these questions.
  24 10,962 45
A 3 year update on the influence of noise on performance and behavior
Charlotte Clark, Patrik Srqvist
November-December 2012, 14(61):292-296
The effect of noise exposure on human performance and behavior continues to be a focus for research activities. This paper reviews developments in the field over the past 3 years, highlighting current areas of research, recent findings, and ongoing research in two main research areas: Field studies of noise effects on children's cognition and experimental studies of auditory distraction. Overall, the evidence for the effects of external environmental noise on children's cognition has strengthened in recent years, with the use of larger community samples and better noise characterization. Studies have begun to establish exposure-effect thresholds for noise effects on cognition. However, the evidence remains predominantly cross-sectional and future research needs to examine whether sound insulation might lessen the effects of external noise on children's learning. Research has also begun to explore the link between internal classroom acoustics and children's learning, aiming to further inform the design of the internal acoustic environment. Experimental studies of the effects of noise on cognitive performance are also reviewed, including functional differences in varieties of auditory distraction, semantic auditory distraction, individual differences in susceptibility to auditory distraction, and the role of cognitive control on the effects of noise on understanding and memory of target speech materials. In general, the results indicate that there are at least two functionally different types of auditory distraction: One due to the interruption of processes (as a result of attention being captured by the sound), another due to interference between processes. The magnitude of the former type is related to individual differences in cognitive control capacities (e.g., working memory capacity); the magnitude of the latter is not. Few studies address noise effects on behavioral outcomes, emphasizing the need for researchers to explore noise effects on behavior in more detail.
  16 11,934 40
The use of the kurtosis metric in the evaluation of occupational hearing loss in workers in China: Implications for hearing risk assessment
Robert I Davis, Wei Qiu, Nicholas J Heyer, Yiming Zhao, MS Qiuling Yang, Nan Li, Liyuan Tao, Liangliang Zhu, Lin Zeng, Daohua Yao
November-December 2012, 14(61):330-342
This study examined: (1) the value of using the statistical metric, kurtosis [β(t)], along with an energy metric to determine the hazard to hearing from high level industrial noise environments, and (2) the accuracy of the International Standard Organization (ISO-1999:1990) model for median noise-induced permanent threshold shift (NIPTS) estimates with actual recent epidemiological data obtained on 240 highly screened workers exposed to high-level industrial noise in China. A cross-sectional approach was used in this study. Shift-long temporal waveforms of the noise that workers were exposed to for evaluation of noise exposures and audiometric threshold measures were obtained on all selected subjects. The subjects were exposed to only one occupational noise exposure without the use of hearing protection devices. The results suggest that: (1) the kurtosis metric is an important variable in determining the hazards to hearing posed by a high-level industrial noise environment for hearing conservation purposes, i.e., the kurtosis differentiated between the hazardous effects produced by Gaussian and non-Gaussian noise environments, (2) the ISO-1999 predictive model does not accurately estimate the degree of median NIPTS incurred to high level kurtosis industrial noise, and (3) the inherent large variability in NIPTS among subjects emphasize the need to develop and analyze a larger database of workers with well-documented exposures to better understand the effect of kurtosis on NIPTS incurred from high level industrial noise exposures. A better understanding of the role of the kurtosis metric may lead to its incorporation into a new generation of more predictive hearing risk assessment for occupational noise exposure.
  12 6,174 29
Open-plan office noise: The susceptibility and suitability of different cognitive tasks for work in the presence of irrelevant speech
Helena Jahncke
November-December 2012, 14(61):315-320
The aim of the present study was to test which tasks are suitable for work in open-plan offices according to how susceptible they are to disruption produced by the mere presence of irrelevant speech. The tasks were chosen to tap fundamental capacities of office work involving: search for relevant information, remembering material, counting, and generation of words. The hypothesis was that tasks requiring semantic processing should be impaired by irrelevant speech. To determine the magnitude of performance decrease, two sound conditions (quiet, irrelevant speech) were compared. The results showed that tasks based on episodic short-term-memory and rehearsal of the presented material were more sensitive to disruption by irrelevant speech than tasks which did not require rehearsal or were based on long-term memory retrieval. The present study points to the inappropriateness of tasks, such as information search and remembering of material, for work environments within which irrelevant speech is ubiquitous.
  9 8,871 29
Critical appraisal of methods for the assessment of noise effects on sleep
Mathias Basner, Mark Brink, Eva-Maria Elmenhorst
November-December 2012, 14(61):321-329
Various sleep measurement techniques have been applied in past studies on the effects of environmental noise on sleep, complicating comparisons between studies and the derivation of pooled exposure-response relationships that could inform policy and legislation. To date, a consensus on a standard measurement technique for the assessment of environmental noise effects on sleep is missing. This would be desirable to increase comparability of future studies. This manuscript provides a detailed description of the sleep process, typical indicators of disturbed sleep, and how noise interferes with sleep. It also describes and discusses merits and drawbacks of five established methods commonly used for the assessment of noise effects on sleep (i.e., polysomnography, actigraphy, electrocardiography, behaviorally confirmed awakenings, and questionnaires). Arguments supporting the joint use of actigraphy and a single channel electrocardiogram as meaningful, robust, and inexpensive methods that would allow for the investigation of large representative subject samples are presented. These could be used as a starting point for the generation of an expert consensus.
  4 7,697 29
Noise and communication: A three-year update
Anthony J Brammer, Chantal Laroche
November-December 2012, 14(61):281-286
Noise is omnipresent and impacts us all in many aspects of daily living. Noise can interfere with communication not only in industrial workplaces, but also in other work settings (e.g. open-plan offices, construction, and mining) and within buildings (e.g. residences, arenas, and schools). The interference of noise with communication can have significant social consequences, especially for persons with hearing loss, and may compromise safety (e.g. failure to perceive auditory warning signals), influence worker productivity and learning in children, affect health (e.g. vocal pathology, noise-induced hearing loss), compromise speech privacy, and impact social participation by the elderly. For workers, attempts have been made to: 1) Better define the auditory performance needed to function effectively and to directly measure these abilities when assessing Auditory Fitness for Duty, 2) design hearing protection devices that can improve speech understanding while offering adequate protection against loud noises, and 3) improve speech privacy in open-plan offices. As the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the effects of noise, an understanding of the interplay between auditory, cognitive, and social factors and its effect on speech communication and social participation is also critical. Classroom acoustics and speech intelligibility in children have also gained renewed interest because of the importance of effective speech comprehension in noise on learning. Finally, substantial work has been made in developing models aimed at better predicting speech intelligibility. Despite progress in various fields, the design of alarm signals continues to lag behind advancements in knowledge. This summary of the last three years' research highlights some of the most recent issues for the workplace, for older adults, and for children, as well as the effectiveness of warning sounds and models for predicting speech intelligibility. Suggestions for future work are also discussed.
  4 10,925 34
Community response to noise
Takashi Yano, Truls Gjestland, Soogab Lee
November-December 2012, 14(61):303-306
Activities from 2008 to 2011 by ICBEN community response to noise team were summarized. That is, individual community-based indexes such as community tolerance Level, Zuricher Fluglarm Index (ZFI) and Frankfurter Fluglarm Index (FFI/FNI) were newly proposed, differences in railway bonus between Europe and Asia were discussed by a Swedish survey, socio-acoustic surveys were reported from developing countries, and annoyance equivalents and dominant source models were proposed as the adequate combined noise model. Furthermore, not only negative, but also positive aspects of sound were discussed as soundscape studies. Finally, seven items were listed as future team activities.
  1 6,861 31
Editorial: Research on biological effects of noise: 2008-2011
Mathias Basner, Lex Brown
November-December 2012, 14(61):273-273
  1 4,639 33
Progress on noise policies from 2008 to 2011
Lawrence Finegold, Dietrich Schwela, Jacques Lambert
November-December 2012, 14(61):307-312
ICBEN Team 9, Noise Policy and Economics, provides an update on international progress on noise mitigation policies and strategies, best practices, and guidelines for environmental noise management for each ICBEN Congress. As described in this brief paper and in more detail in the associated paper prepared for the ICBEN 2011 Congress in London, there were a considerable amount of new relevant documents in many countries on these topics since the last ICBEN Congress in 2008. As before, much of this progress was made in the European Union, although other areas of the world demonstrated a continuing commitment to improvement on these issues, especially in Asia and North America. The Team 9 topics are particularly important because they embody the implementation of the results of the work of the other ICBEN International Noise Teams on the effects of noise exposure and, in addition, address the evolving and vital area of economics. The latter focus area includes topics such as cost-benefit analysis, which is crucial for governments to implement adequate and affordable noise mitigation policies. The ICBEN Team 9 review was prepared through inputs for the authors and through inputs by various Team 9 members. Interested readers are encouraged to read the more extensive Team 9 review paper available in the Proceedings of the ICBEN 2011 Congress.
  - 6,100 33
Combined Exposures: An update from the International comission on biological effects of noise
Tony Leroux, Ronny Klaeboe
November-December 2012, 14(61):313-314
International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise (ICBEN) Team 8 deals with the effects of combined "agents" in the urban and work place settings. Results presented at the ICBEN conference indicate that some pesticides, more specifically the organophosphates, and a wider range of industrial chemicals are harmful to the auditory system at concentrations often found in occupational settings. Effects of occupational noise on hearing are exacerbated by toluene and possibly by carbon monoxide. Several of the chemicals studied found to be potentially toxic not only to hair cells in the cochlea but also to the auditory nerve. In urban environments, team 8 focuses on additive and synergetic effects of ambient stressors. It was argued that noise policies need to pay attention to grey areas with intermediate noise levels. Noteworthy is also stronger reactions to vibrations experienced in the evening and during the night. An innovative event-based model for sound perception was presented.
  - 5,302 39