Study focuses on hearing loss prevention

By Rob Heselbarth

Many people in America have suffered some degree of hearing loss due to their work environment and other controllable noise in their lives.

In December, a conference was held in Washington, D.C., to come up with ways people can prevent hearing loss in their everyday lives.

The conference was cosponsored by the American Speech and Language Hearing Association, the Accoustical Society of America and the American Otology Society.

At the conference, the U.S. government was called upon to help direct funds toward the study of environmental noise and how it creates hearing loss in workers, said James Lankford, NIU dean of the college of professional studies.

“There has not been a whole lot of concentrated work on this area and we need more,” Lankford said.

“We tried to put together strategies to combat noise and to help inform people as to what they can wear to help prevent hearing loss,” Lankford said.

Lankford said 28 million Americans have significant hearing loss, of which 10 million of them can attribute it to noise.

“The two main factors in hearing loss are aging and noise,” Lankford added. “Noise can be any type of recreational noise, or occupational noise, such as rock concerts and machinery.

“I was on a subcommittee that dealt with trying to change the behavior of the general public as far as their hearing is concerned,” he said.

“Part of my studies dealt with conserving hearing in farmers,” Lankford said. “Tractor noise is not the only contributing factor in the hearing loss of farmers. Ninety-two percent of farmers use firearms which greatly reduces their hearing.

“We want the media to carry articles and public service announcements on T.V. as to ways people can prevent hearing loss,” Lankford said.