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vol.67 número2Chemicals, noise and occupational hearing health in South Africa: A mapping studyA critical analysis of the current South African occupational health law and hearing loss índice de autoresíndice de assuntospesquisa de artigos
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South African Journal of Communication Disorders

versão On-line ISSN 2225-4765
versão impressa ISSN 0379-8046


GROBLER, Leoni M. et al. Occupational noise and age: A longitudinal study of hearing sensitivity as a function of noise exposure and age in South African gold mine workers. S. Afr. J. Commun. Disord. [online]. 2020, vol.67, n.2, pp.1-7. ISSN 2225-4765.

BACKGROUND: A relationship exists between occupational noise exposure and age, which remains poorly understood. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to establish the relationship between hearing loss and age over time. METHOD: Audiological data from 2583 mine workers in South Africa were utilised. Data were received from a non-noise exposed group (NNEG) (n = 951) and a noise exposed group (NEG) (≥85 dBA) (n = 1632). Data comprised a low-frequency average (LFA512) (average of audiological thresholds for 0.5 kHz, 1 kHz and 2 kHz) and high-frequency average (HFA346) (average of audiological thresholds for 3 kHz, 4 kHz and 6 kHz). Data were compared by using mixed-effects regression analysis. RESULTS: Base threshold values were higher for the NEG than for the NNEG across frequencies. All year-to-year increases in mean hearing thresholds were statistically significant (p < 0.01). When correcting for age, increases in mean hearing thresholds were higher for the NEG than for the NNEG for HFA346 (3.5 dB vs. 2.9 dB decline over a 4-year period) but similar for LFA512 (0.6 dB vs. 0.7 dB decline). Uncorrected for age, increases in mean hearing thresholds were higher than when age was corrected for. CONCLUSION: Age and occupational noise exposure influence hearing thresholds over time. The continued increase in hearing thresholds of the NEG above that of the NNEG can be related to ineffective noise management programmes and/or the fact that early noise exposure leads to a higher burden of hearing loss over time - even after noise exposure had stopped.

Palavras-chave : Age-related hearing loss; Noise exposure; Noise-induced hearing loss; Occupational noise exposure; Mining.

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