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Friday, February 8 • 3:00pm - 3:20pm
Acoustic Trauma: Minimum Exposures To Continuous Noise

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Although acoustic trauma has been used loosely to refer to almost any adverse effect of sounds on hearing (whether temporary or permanent, acute onset or developing over years), it is now generally accepted that acoustic trauma means a permanent pure tone threshold shift from a single exposure, and can result from either impulsive noise (e.g., gunfire) or continuous noise. Ward (1991) reviewed the literature and described an inverse relationship between intensity and duration for continuous noise; individual cases of acoustic trauma occurred after tonal exposures lasting only seconds at 138 dB SPL, and after longer exposures at lower levels (8 minutes at 120 dB). In contrast to these cases, which could represent unusually susceptible people, much more intense exposures (e.g., 32 minutes at 130 dB) caused only temporary threshold shifts in groups of volunteer subjects. We updated this review based on literature published in the 28 years since Ward's paper, searching PubMed and our own files, and asking approximately 50 international colleagues for documented cases that had escaped our search. We found no evidence of acoustic trauma for tonal exposures less than 120 dB. At levels above 130 dB, exposures lasting only seconds can cause acoustic trauma.

avatar for Elliott Berger, M.S., FASA, FAIHA

Elliott Berger, M.S., FASA, FAIHA

President, Berger Acoustical Consulting
Elliott, recently retired from his role as Division Scientist for 3M’s Personal Safety Division, is now an acoustical consultant. For over 40 years he has studied hearing protection, hearing conservation, and related topics, and authored 17 textbook chapters and over 75 published... Read More →

Robert Dobie, MD

Clinical Professor, Dept. of Otolaryngology, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Robert Dobie MD is clinical professor of otolaryngology at the University of Texas (San Antonio) and partner in Dobie Associates, providing consultation in hearing, balance, hearing conservation, and ear disorders (www.dobieassociates.net). After residency training at Stanford University... Read More →

Friday February 8, 2019 3:00pm - 3:20pm PST
Grapevine A