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Special Issue "Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Samson Jamesdaniel
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Medicine, Wayne State University, 6135 Woodward Ave., IBio Rm. 2127, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Interests: redox signaling in acquired hearing loss; noise-induced hearing impairment; heavy metal exposure and auditory dysfunction; cisplatin-induced ototoxicity; enviromental exposure to ototraumatic agents and their interactions; hearing loss and tinnitus associated with occupational exposures

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue on “Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss” in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The venue is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information on the journal, we refer you to https://0-www-mdpi-com.brum.beds.ac.uk/journal/ijerph. 

Approximately 15% of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss, which significantly affects the quality of life. Exposure to ototraumatic agents, such as noise, chemicals, and heavy metals, in environmental and occupational settings, are critical factors in inducing acquired hearing loss in adults. Moreover, the synergistic interaction between some of these ototraumatic agents can potentiate auditory dysfunction in susceptible individuals. Epidemiological studies can provide data on the prevalence of auditory dysfunction induced by ototraumatic exposures while animal studies can offer critical insights for understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms. Together, these research findings can provide guidance for mitigating the adverse impact of environmental/occupational exposures to ototraumatic agents.

This Special Issue is open to any subject area related to the impacts of environmental exposures on auditory dysfunction. The listed keywords suggest just a few of the many possibilities.

Dr. Samson Jamesdaniel
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Noise
  • Ototoxic chemicals
  • Organic solvents
  • Heavy metals
  • Lead
  • Hearing Loss
  • Ototoxicity
  • Synaptopathy
  • Cochlear apoptosis
  • Occupational exposure
  • Environmental exposure

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(13), 4879; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17134879 - 07 Jul 2020
Viewed by 737
Abstract
Pollutants that contaminate the natural or built environment adversely affect the health of living organisms. Although exposure to many of them could be avoided or minimized by careful preventive measures, it is impossible to totally avoid exposure to all pollutants. Ototraumatic agents, such [...] Read more.
Pollutants that contaminate the natural or built environment adversely affect the health of living organisms. Although exposure to many of them could be avoided or minimized by careful preventive measures, it is impossible to totally avoid exposure to all pollutants. Ototraumatic agents, such as noise, chemicals, and heavy metals, are pervasive pollutants, mostly produced by human activity, and are critical factors in inducing acquired hearing loss. More importantly, exposure to these pollutants often occurs concurrently and, therefore, the synergistic interactions potentiate auditory dysfunction in susceptible individuals. Epidemiological studies have provided compelling data on the incidence of auditory dysfunction after exposure to a number of ototraumatic agents in the environment, while animal studies have offered crucial insights for understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms. Together, they provide a framework for developing effective interventional approaches for mitigating the adverse impacts of environmental or occupational exposure to ototraumatic agents. This article provides a brief overview of the common pollutants that cause hearing loss. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss)

Research

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Article
What Are the Current Audiological Practices for Ototoxicity Assessment and Management in the South African Healthcare Context?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2613; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17072613 - 10 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1142
Abstract
The study was an initial exploration of the current ototoxicity assessment and management practices by audiologists in South Africa. An exploratory survey research methodology through a cross-sectional research design was adopted where audiologists were recruited from professional associations’ databases in South Africa, using [...] Read more.
The study was an initial exploration of the current ototoxicity assessment and management practices by audiologists in South Africa. An exploratory survey research methodology through a cross-sectional research design was adopted where audiologists were recruited from professional associations’ databases in South Africa, using specific inclusion criteria. The study made use of an 18-item web-based survey guided by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) (2018) guidelines which were developed from reviewing international guidelines such as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA,1994) and the American Academy of Audiology (AAA, 2009). The study surveyed 31 audiologists from across the country. Data were analyzed through descriptive statistics. Findings implied significant gaps between knowledge and translation of this knowledge into practice. Over two thirds of the participants engage with ototoxicity monitoring and management, but the practices adopted by them do not align with international standards nor with the national HPCSA guidelines on assessment and management of patients on ototoxic medications. Most participants do not conduct baseline assessments, and the frequency of monitoring is irregular and reduced from the recommended; thus influencing ability for early detection and intervention of ototoxicity within this context. Non-standard assessment battery is used for assessment and monitoring, raising questions about the reliability and validity of the data used to make preventive treatment decisions. Lack of collaborative work between audiologists and the rest of the clinical team involved in the treatment of patients on ototoxic medications was found to be an important contributing factor to the less than optimal ototoxicity management practices. Of factors potentially influencing adherence to guidelines, the institution of employment, specifically employment in a tuberculosis hospital, seemed to have a positive influence, possibly due to the focused nature of the audiologists’ scope of practice there as well as availability of resources. The level of education appeared to have no influence. Current findings provide contextually relevant evidence on ototoxicity assessment and management within this context. They raise important implications for guidelines adherence and translating knowledge, policies and guidelines into practice, clinical assessment and management protocols followed, appropriate resource allocation per programme, as well as strategic planning for national ototoxicity assessment and management programmes in context. The findings also raise important implications for low- and middle-income countries, in terms of adopting international guidelines without considering context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss)
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Article
Environmental Noise Classification Using Convolutional Neural Networks with Input Transform for Hearing Aids
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2270; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17072270 - 27 Mar 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1285
Abstract
Hearing aids are essential for people with hearing loss, and noise estimation and classification are some of the most important technologies used in devices. This paper presents an environmental noise classification algorithm for hearing aids that uses convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and image [...] Read more.
Hearing aids are essential for people with hearing loss, and noise estimation and classification are some of the most important technologies used in devices. This paper presents an environmental noise classification algorithm for hearing aids that uses convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and image signals transformed from sound signals. The algorithm was developed using the data of ten types of noise acquired from living environments where such noises occur. Spectrogram images transformed from sound data are used as the input of the CNNs after processing of the images by a sharpening mask and median filter. The classification results of the proposed algorithm were compared with those of other noise classification methods. A maximum correct classification accuracy of 99.25% was achieved by the proposed algorithm for a spectrogram time length of 1 s, with the correct classification accuracy decreasing with increasing spectrogram time length up to 8 s. For a spectrogram time length of 8 s and using the sharpening mask and median filter, the classification accuracy was 98.73%, which is comparable with the 98.79% achieved by the conventional method for a time length of 1 s. The proposed hearing aid noise classification algorithm thus offers less computational complexity without compromising on performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss)
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Article
Increased Risk of Sensorineural Hearing Loss as a Result of Exposure to Air Pollution
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 1969; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17061969 - 17 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 995
Abstract
Whether exposure to air pollution is associated with developing sensorineural hearing loss (SHL) remains controversial. Using data from the National Health Insurance Research Database, we recruited a total of 75,767 subjects aged older than 20 years with no history of SHL from 1998 [...] Read more.
Whether exposure to air pollution is associated with developing sensorineural hearing loss (SHL) remains controversial. Using data from the National Health Insurance Research Database, we recruited a total of 75,767 subjects aged older than 20 years with no history of SHL from 1998 to 2010, and they were followed up until SHL was observed, they withdrew from the National Health Insurance program, or the study ended. The subjects were evenly exposed to low-level, mid-level, and high-level carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The incidence rate ratio of SHL for patients exposed to high-level CO was 1.24 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.14–1.36). The NO2 pollutants increased the incidence rate ratios of SHL in mid-level NO2 and high-level NO2 exposures by 1.10 (95% CI = 1.10–1.32) and 1.36 (95% CI = 1.24–1.49) times, respectively. The adjusted hazard ratio (adj. HR) of SHL in patients exposed to high-level CO was 1.45 (95% CI = 1.31–1.59), relative to that of patients exposed to low-level CO. Compared to patients exposed to low-level NO2, patients exposed to mid-level NO2 (adj. HR = 1.40, 95% CI = 1.27–1.54) and high-level NO2 (adj. HR = 1.63, 95% CI = 1.48–1.81) had a higher risk of developing SHL. The increased risk of SHL following the increased concentrations of air pollutants (CO and NO2) was statistically significant in this study. In conclusion, the subjects’ exposure to air pollution exhibited a significantly higher risk of developing SHL in Taiwan. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss)
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Article
Tinnitus and Self-Perceived Hearing Handicap in Firefighters: A Cross-Sectional Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(20), 3958; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph16203958 - 17 Oct 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1354
Abstract
Firefighters are susceptible to auditory dysfunction due to long-term exposure to noise from sirens, air horns, equipment, and tools used in forcible entry, ventilation, and extrication. In addition, they are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, particularly, during overhaul operations. Studies indicate that 40% of [...] Read more.
Firefighters are susceptible to auditory dysfunction due to long-term exposure to noise from sirens, air horns, equipment, and tools used in forcible entry, ventilation, and extrication. In addition, they are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, particularly, during overhaul operations. Studies indicate that 40% of firefighters have hearing loss in the noise-sensitive frequencies of 4 and 6 kHz. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is often accompanied by tinnitus, which is characterized by ringing noise in the ears. The presence of phantom sounds can adversely affect the performance of firefighters. However, there has been limited research conducted on the prevalence of tinnitus in firefighters. We enrolled firefighters from Michigan, with at least 5 years of continuous service. The hearing handicap inventory for adults (HHIA) was used to determine the difficulty in hearing perceived by the firefighters and the tinnitus functional index (TFI) was used to determine the severity of tinnitus. Self-perceived hearing handicap was reported by 36% of the participants, while tinnitus was reported by 48% of the participants. The TFI survey indicated that 31% perceived tinnitus as a problem. More importantly, self-perceived hearing handicap was significantly associated with the incidence of tinnitus in firefighters, suggesting a potential link between occupational exposure to ototraumatic agents and tinnitus in firefighters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss)
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Article
Effect of Specific Retinoic Acid Receptor Agonists on Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(18), 3428; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph16183428 - 16 Sep 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1057
Abstract
Noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss in industrial countries. There are many studies about chemical agents to prevent noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). However, there is no commercially available drug yet. Retinoic acid is an active metabolite of Vitamin [...] Read more.
Noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss in industrial countries. There are many studies about chemical agents to prevent noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). However, there is no commercially available drug yet. Retinoic acid is an active metabolite of Vitamin A; it has an anti-apoptic role in NIHL. This study aims to verify the differences among selective agonists of retinoic acid receptors (RARs) in NIHL. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), AM80 (selective retinoic acid receptor α agonist), AC261066 (Selective retinoic acid receptor β1 agonist), and CD1530 (Selective retinoic acid λ agonist) were injected to 6–7 weeks old CJ5BL/6 mice before noise (110 dB for 3 h) exposure. In the auditory brainstem response test pre-, post 1, 3, and 7 days after noise exposure, not only ATRA but all kinds of selective RAR agonists showed protective effects in hearing threshold and wave I amplitude. Though there was no significant difference in the level of protective effects between agonists, α agonist showed the most prominent effect in preserving hearing function as well as outer hair cells after noise exposure. In conclusion, selective agonists of RAR demonstrate comparable protective effects against NIHL to retinoic acid. Given that these selective RAR agonists have less side effects than retinoic acid, they may be promising potential drugs against NIHL. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss)
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Article
Rationale for a Rapid Methodology to Assess the Prevalence of Hearing Loss in Population-Based Surveys
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(18), 3405; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16183405 - 13 Sep 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1327
Abstract
Data on the prevalence and causes of hearing loss is lacking from many low and middle-income countries, in part, because all-age population-based surveys of hearing loss can be expensive and time consuming. Restricting samples to older adults would reduce the sample size required, [...] Read more.
Data on the prevalence and causes of hearing loss is lacking from many low and middle-income countries, in part, because all-age population-based surveys of hearing loss can be expensive and time consuming. Restricting samples to older adults would reduce the sample size required, as hearing loss is more prevalent in this group. Population-based surveys of hearing loss require clinicians to be involved in the data collection team and reducing the duration of the survey may help to minimise the impact on service delivery. The objective of this paper was to identify the optimal age-group for conduct of population-based surveys of hearing loss, balancing sample size efficiencies, and expected response rates with ability to make inferences to the all-age population. Methods: Between 2013–2014, two all aged population-based surveys of hearing loss were conducted in one district each of India and Cameroon. Secondary data analysis was conducted to determine the proportion of hearing loss (moderate or greater) in people aged 30+, 40+ and 50+. Poisson regression models were developed to predict the expected prevalence of hearing loss in the whole population, based on the prevalence in people aged 30+, 40+, and 50+, which was compared to the observed prevalence. The distribution of causes in these age groups was also compared to the all-age population. Sample sizes and response rates were estimated to assess which age cut-off is most rapid. Results: Of 160 people in India and 131 in Cameroon with moderate or greater hearing loss, over 70% were older than 50 in both settings. For people aged 30+ (90.6% India; 76.3% Cameroon), 40+ (81% India; 75% Cameroon) and 50+ (73% India; 73% Cameroon) the proportions were higher. Prediction based on Poisson distributed observations the predicted prevalence based on those aged 30+, 40+, and 50+ fell within the confidence intervals of the observed prevalence. The distribution of probable causes of hearing loss in the older age groups was statistically similar to the total population. Sample size calculations and an analysis of response rates suggested that a focus on those aged 50+ would minimise costs the most by reducing the survey duration. Conclusion: Restricting the age group included in surveys of hearing loss, in particular to people aged 50+, would still allow inferences to be made to the total population, and would mean that the required sample size would be smaller, thus reducing the duration of the survey and costs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss)
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Article
Assessment of Safe Listening Intentional Behavior Toward Personal Listening Devices in Young Adults
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(17), 3180; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph16173180 - 31 Aug 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1231
Abstract
Recreational noise-induced hearing loss (RNIHL) is a highly preventable disorder that is commonly seen in teenagers and young adults. Despite the documented negative effects of RNIHL, it is still challenging to persuade people to adopt safe listening behaviors. More research is needed to [...] Read more.
Recreational noise-induced hearing loss (RNIHL) is a highly preventable disorder that is commonly seen in teenagers and young adults. Despite the documented negative effects of RNIHL, it is still challenging to persuade people to adopt safe listening behaviors. More research is needed to understand the underlying factors guiding listeners’ intentions to engage in safe listening habits. We used the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to identify attitudes, social norms, and behavioral control in 92 young adults toward two intentional behaviors related to safe listening habits while listening to their personal listening devices: (1) lowering the intensity of loud music, and (2) shortening the listening duration of loud music. Using a Qualtrics survey, the major factors of the TPB model as they relate to the participants’ intention to engage in risk-controlling behavior were assessed. Behavioral intentions to turn the music down and listen for shorter durations were thought to be predicted by the TPB factors (attitudes, social norms, and perceived behavioral control). Linear regression findings indicated that the overall TPB models were significant. Positive attitudes toward turning the music down and shortening the durations were significantly associated with intentions to engage in non-risky behavior, more so for the former behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss)
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Article
Awareness of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and Use of Hearing Protection among Young Adults in Jordan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(16), 2961; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph16162961 - 17 Aug 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1890
Abstract
Action to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is necessary, especially because many causes of permanent hearing loss are preventable. The aim of this study is to identify and raise awareness of the effect of loud sounds on hearing and effective ways to protect ears [...] Read more.
Action to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is necessary, especially because many causes of permanent hearing loss are preventable. The aim of this study is to identify and raise awareness of the effect of loud sounds on hearing and effective ways to protect ears among young adults in Jordan. Using non-probability and convenience sampling, 245 students (113 female and 132 males, aged 21.5 years ± 2.18) from three universities participated in the study and filled the questionnaire completely. The questionnaire consisted of 19 questions targeting hearing health. The answers were analyzed statistically, and comparisons were made using the t-test. Hearing loss was regarded as an important issue by 64.1% of the participants. Among the participants, 58% already suffered from at least one hearing symptom, even though only 9.8% used earplugs to protect their hearing. After receiving information on noise-induced hearing loss, 56.3% were likely or somewhat likely to use earplugs in the future (p < 0.01). This indicates that education and knowledge have a strong influence on student attitudes. It is obvious that the awareness of noise-induced hearing loss among adults in Jordan is very low. The authorities, policymakers, media, and educational institutes should recognize their responsibility in raising the awareness of the danger of loud music among young adults. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss)
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Article
Selection of Level-Dependent Hearing Protectors for Use in An Indoor Shooting Range
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(13), 2266; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph16132266 - 27 Jun 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1110
Abstract
The high sound pressure level generated by impulse noise produced in an indoor shooting range makes it necessary to protect the hearing of the people it affects. Due to the need for verbal communication during training at a shooting range, level-dependent hearing protectors [...] Read more.
The high sound pressure level generated by impulse noise produced in an indoor shooting range makes it necessary to protect the hearing of the people it affects. Due to the need for verbal communication during training at a shooting range, level-dependent hearing protectors are useful. The objective of this study was to answer the question of whether it is possible to properly protect the hearing of a shooting instructor using level-dependent hearing protectors. The noise parameters were measured in the places where the instructor was present at the shooting range. The division of a specific group of trained shooters into subgroups consisting of three or six simultaneously shooting individuals did not significantly affect the exposure of the shooting instructor to the noise. An assessment of noise reduction was carried out for eight models of earmuffs and two variants of earplugs, using computational methods for the selection of hearing protectors. Among the noise parameters, both the A-weighted equivalent sound pressure level and the C-weighted peak sound pressure level were taken into account. Depending on the assessment criterion adopted, a sufficient reduction in impulse noise was provided by either four or six out of the 10 hearing protectors included in the study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss)
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Article
Vibration and Noise Transmitted by Agricultural Backpack Powered Machines Critically Examined Using the Current Standards
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(12), 2210; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph16122210 - 21 Jun 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1338
Abstract
European Directives 2002/44/EC and 2003/10/EC establish the exposure limit values for preventing operators’ risks to vibration and noise transmitted by machines. Few studies studied noise and vibration of agricultural backpack powered machines (as mist blowers and blowers), but nobody critically studied them. This [...] Read more.
European Directives 2002/44/EC and 2003/10/EC establish the exposure limit values for preventing operators’ risks to vibration and noise transmitted by machines. Few studies studied noise and vibration of agricultural backpack powered machines (as mist blowers and blowers), but nobody critically studied them. This work analyzed the field back vibration, hand-arm vibration (HAV), and noise transmitted to ten operators by eight blowers and mist blowers. Unweighted and weighted vibration were analyzed, using the standards ISO 2631-1 (back), and ISO 5349-1 and ISO/TR 18570 (hand-arm system). The noise was evaluated by recording the acoustic pressure level at the operators’ ears using the ISO 9612. With the ISO 2631-1, the vibration to the operators’ back was low (0.38 ms−2), but the unweighted vibration measured along y and z-axes (not used by the ISO 2631-1) were high (>11 ms−2). HAV were also low when using the ISO 5349-1 (the highest value was 2.51 ms−2 in mist blowers), but high with the ISO/TR 18570 for the onset of vibration white finger (1446 ms−1.5 in blowers). Noise levels were always high: more than 100 dB(A), excluding the blower with the exhaust inside the blower hose. This last machine had noise levels lower than 86 dB(A), but its specific feature could increase environmental pollution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Exposures and Hearing Loss)
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