Apple Hearing Study suggests many Americans are exposed to too much noise

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by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

According to this story on the CNET website, the Apple Hearing Study suggests that many Americans are exposed to too much noise. The research uses recordings of sound pressure levels from Apple phones and watches to study noise exposure in people using these devices. The study’s principal investigator, Richard Neitzel, PhD, is based at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. In conjunction with this year’s International Noise Awareness Day, the university issued a blog post with an interactive map so readers can view recorded noise levels where they live.  

The research team used data from about 130,000 participants in the United States, from November 2019 to December 2022, to calculate average daily environmental noise exposure. Extrapolating those measurements to the American population, the researchers concluded that about a third of the adult population — approximately 77 million Americans — were exposed to unsafe daily levels of noise, exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s calculated safe noise level of 70 decibels time-weighted average for a day. 

Hearing loss with age is widely assumed to be normal, but the evidence shows that it is really cumulative auditory damage from a lifetime of excessive noise exposure, i.e., noise-induced hearing loss in the elderly, and not merely age-related hearing loss.

The Quiet Coalition, along with Quiet Communities, Hearing Health Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many other organizations and individuals, is trying to educate legislators, regulators and the public about the dangers of noise for auditory health.

Our goal is a quieter world, which will be a better and healthier world for all.

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