Whistle noise may harm sports officials’ hearing: study

January 23, 2013

Kalamazoo, MI – Exposure to whistle noise may contribute to hearing loss among sports officials, suggests a study from Western Michigan University.

Researchers surveyed 321 Michigan sports officials about their exposure to whistle noise and experience with hearing loss and tinnitus. Self-reported hearing loss was higher among respondents than the general Midwest population, the study stated.

Whistles produce sound between 104 and 116 dBA, at which levels the maximum allowed exposure time for unprotected ears are 90 seconds and 5 seconds, respectively, according to the study.

Researchers concluded that although the sound was loud enough to present a risk, other factors such as exposure to crowd noise also could contribute to hearing loss.

The article was published in the January issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.