Trad musicians at risk of hearing loss, study finds

[From Irish Times >>> ] REPEATED EXPOSURE to amplified sound by Irish musicians will have an adverse effect on hearing, a postgraduate research project at NUI Galway (NUIG) has found. The study by physics MSc student Helena O’Sullivan shows that even traditional musicians run the risk of noise-induced hearing loss, if using amplification.

Some of the results recorded by Ms O’Sullivan exceed the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 on control of noise. The findings support a case for increased awareness training of the issue among musicians, the author has found.

Data collected by Ms O’Sullivan shows that personal noise exposures experienced by all of the rock/pop musicians sampled exceeded the 87dB(A) exposure limit value in the 2007 safety regulations. Half of the traditional Irish musicians sampled also exceeded the exposure limit value, she found.

She measured noise levels at static monitoring points on the stage during the performance. These ranged from 85 to 90dB(A) during traditional music performances, and 101-107dB(A) during rock/pop music performances. She also measured the personal noise exposure level of one member of the groups surveyed – the singer or the drummer. The levels were 100-102dB(A) for rock/pop band members and 88-95dB(A) for members of traditional music groups.

A questionnaire survey of musicians on noise exposure conducted as part of the research project indicated that 52 per cent of respondents regularly experience a ringing sensation in their ears after a performance.

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