Hearing Loss Research at NIOSH: Reviews of Research Programs of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
National Research Council, Institute of Medicine, Board on Health Sciences Policy, Committee to Review the NIOSH Hearing Loss Research Program
National Academies Press, Nov 14, 2006 - Medical - 224 pages
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) was established by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (U.S. Congress, 1970). Today the agency is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIOSH is charged with the responsibility to "conduct . . . research, experiments, and demonstrations relating to occupational safety and health" and to develop "innovative methods, techniques, and approaches for dealing with [those] problems" (U.S. Congress, 1970). Its research targets include identifying criteria for use in setting worker exposure standards and exploring new problems that may arise in the workplace. Prevention of occupational hearing loss has been part of the NIOSH research portfolio from the time the agency was established. A principal cause of occupational hearing loss is the cumulative effect of years of exposure to hazardous noise. Exposure to certain chemicals with or without concomitant noise exposure may also contribute to occupational hearing loss. Hearing loss may impede communication in the workplace and contribute to safety hazards. Occupationally acquired hearing loss may also have an adverse effect on workers' lives beyond the workplace. No medical means are currently available to prevent or reverse it, although hearing aids are widely used and research on other treatments is ongoing. Occupational hearing loss is a serious concern, although the number of workers affected is uncertain.