Exposure to excessive sounds and hearing status in academic classical music students
Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland
(Department of Physical Hazards)
Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2017;30(1):55–75
Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess hearing of music students in relation to their exposure to excessive sounds. Material and Methods: Standard pure-tone audiometry (PTA) was performed in 168 music students, aged 22.5±2.5 years.
The control group included 67 subjects, non-music students and non-musicians, aged 22.8±3.3 years. Data on the study
subjects’ musical experience, instruments in use, time of weekly practice and additional risk factors for noise-induced hearing
loss (NIHL) were identified by means of a questionnaire survey. Sound pressure levels produced by various groups of
instruments during solo and group playing were also measured and analyzed. The music students’ audiometric hearing
threshold levels (HTLs) were compared with the theoretical predictions calculated according to the International Organization
for Standardization standard ISO 1999:2013. Results: It was estimated that the music students were exposed for
27.1±14.3 h/week to sounds at the A-weighted equivalent-continuous sound pressure level of 89.9±6.0 dB. There were no
significant differences in HTLs between the music students and the control group in the frequency range of 4000–8000 Hz.
Furthermore, in each group HTLs in the frequency range 1000–8000 Hz did not exceed 20 dB HL in 83% of the examined
ears. Nevertheless, high frequency notched audiograms typical of the noise-induced hearing loss were found in 13.4%
and 9% of the musicians and non-musicians, respectively. The odds ratio (OR) of notching in the music students increased
significantly along with higher sound pressure levels (OR = 1.07, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.014–1.13, p < 0.05).
The students’ HTLs were worse (higher) than those of a highly screened non-noise-exposed population. Moreover, their
hearing loss was less severe than that expected from sound exposure for frequencies of 3000 Hz and 4000 Hz, and it was
more severe in the case of frequency of 6000 Hz. Conclusions: The results confirm the need for further studies and development
of a hearing conservation program for music students. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2017;30(1):55–75
Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Department of Physical Hazards, św. Teresy 8, 91-348 Łódź, Poland