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Music primary source of noise overexposure for urban dwellers: study

January 11, 2012

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Ann Arbor, MI – Listening to music is one of the primary causes of potential hearing loss among people living in urban areas, according to a new study (.pdf file) conducted by the University of Michigan.

Researchers surveyed more than 4,500 residents in New York City in 2008 and 2009. They found that 90 percent of mass transit users and 87 percent of non-transit users were at risk for hearing loss due to noise encountered throughout the day, according to the study abstract. Listening to music via headphones while in transit or at home, or listening to music on speakers at home, accounted for nearly 60 percent of daily noise overexposure for transit users. And music-listening accounted for nearly 45 percent of daily noise overexposure for non-transit users, the study said. Occupational noise exposure made up the next highest level of overexposure for both transit and non-transit users.

Researchers concluded that further research on noise exposure for residents of densely populated cities should be conducted, with an emphasis on noise exposures throughout the day, including leisure time.

The study was published online in December in Environmental Science & Technology.

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