Occupational Noise Exposure Using Job-Exposure Matrices and Hearing Loss

Research Trainee: Yoon-Hyeong Choi, MS, PhD Student, Dept. of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan

Faculty Researcher: Sung Kyun Park, ScD, MPH, Research Assistant Professor, Dept. of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan

Although hearing loss is one of the most profound common disabling conditions that older adults can suffer and has remained one of the top priorities on the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) National Occupational Research Agenda (see: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/programs/hlp/), it is substantially underestimated and its biological mechanism is poorly understood. This proposed pilot project will examine the association between hearing loss and noise exposure estimated from job-exposure matrices of the NIOSH and the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) to validate NIOSH and O*NET JEM noise estimates as new markers of noise exposure. This project will also evaluate whether systemic inflammation and intake of vitamins (vitamins B12, C, E, β-carotene, and folate) modify noise-induced hearing loss. The study population is over 5,000 people aged 20 and older participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a representative sample of the U.S. general population, including details of occupation and industry information and occupational and non-occupational noise exposure. The hypotheses are that 1) hearing thresholds as measured by pure tone air conduction audiometer and hearing impairment are adversely affected by noise estimates; 2) subjects with higher body burden of inflammation and oxidative stress as measured by C-reactive protein and dietary intake of antioxidant vitamins and B-vitamins are more vulnerable to noise-induced hearing loss. This pilot project will not only generate additional preliminary results for future epidemiologic studies of the health effect of noise exposure but also suggest preventive public health strategies to prevent or delay the incidence of hearing impairment.


Publications resulting from this project:
Choi Y-H, Hu H, Mukherjee B, Miller J, Park SK. Environmental cadmium and lead exposures and hearing loss in U.S. adults: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999 to 2004. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2012;120(11):1544-1550. doi:10.1289/ehp.1104863. PMCID: 3556613.

Choi Y-H, Hu H, Tak S, Mukherjee B, Park SK. Occupational noise exposure assessment using O*NET and its application to a study of hearing loss in the US general population. Occupational Environmental Medicine. 2012;69(3):176-183. doi:10.1136/oem.2011.064758. PMCID: 3277688.

Choi Y, Hu H, Weisskopf M, Mukherjee B, Sparrow D, Spiro A III, Tak S, Park S. The Impact of Occupation-Related Noise Exposure on Hearing Thresholds in Middle-Aged and Elderly Men: The Normative Aging Study. Epidemiology. 2008;19(6):S276-S277.

Park SK. Role of Free Radicals in Hearing loss due to Heavy Metals. In: Free Radicals in ENT Pathology (edited by Miller J, Le Prell C, Rybak L). Springer. 2015. ISBN 978-3-319-13472-7.

Grants resulting from this project:
NIOSH/CDC. F021707 (PI: Park). Occupational Noise Exposure Using Job-Exposure Matrices and Hearing Loss. 09/01/08 – 06/30/09.