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Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
Original Articles

Firefighters’ Hearing: A Comparison With Population Databases From the International Standards Organization

Kales, Stefanos N. MD, MPH; Freyman, Richard L. PhD; Hill, Jeoffrey M. BA; Polyhronopoulos, Gerry N. BS; Aldrich, Jon M. BA; Christiani, David C. MD, MPH, MS

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Abstract

We investigated firefighters’ hearing relative to general population data to adjust for age-expected hearing loss. For five groups of male firefighters with increasing mean ages, we compared their hearing thresholds at the 50th and 90th percentiles with normative and age- and sex-matched hearing data from the International Standards Organization (databases A and B). At the 50th percentile, from a mean age of 28 to a mean age of 53 years, relative to databases A and B, the firefighters lost an excess of 19 to 23 dB, 20 to 23 dB, and 16 to 19 dB at 3000, 4000, and 6000 Hz, respectively. At the 90th percentile, from a mean age of 28 to a mean age of 53 years, relative to databases A and B, the firefighters lost an excess of 12 to 20 dB, 38 to 44 dB, 41 to 45 dB, and 22 to 28 dB at 2000, 3000, 4000, and 6000 Hz, respectively. The results are consistent with accelerated hearing loss in excess of age-expected loss among the firefighters, especially at or above the 90th percentile.

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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