No AccessAmerican Journal of AudiologyResearch Article3 Mar 2022

Noise Exposure and Use of Hearing Protection Among Adolescents in Rural Areas


    Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) has been found in rural children, potentially due to occupational and recreational noise exposure without consistent use of hearing protection devices (HPDs). However, questions remain regarding the specifics of rural adolescents' noise exposure and use of hearing protection around different types of noise. As such, the purpose of the current study was to provide preliminary results on rural adolescents' noise exposure and use of hearing protection for gunfire, heavy machinery, power tools, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and music.


    A questionnaire was administered to 197 students (seventh to 12th grade) from rural schools in West Texas. Questions were related to noise exposure and use of HPDs for specific categories of noise. Testing was performed at the schools, with an investigator recording each student's responses.


    Approximately 18%–44% of adolescents reported exposure 12 or more times a year to gunfire, heavy machinery, power tools, and ATVs. Only 1%–18% of the adolescents reported never being exposed to such noise sources. Almost half of rural adolescents never used hearing protection around gunfire, and 77%–91% reported never wearing hearing protection when exposed to heavy machinery, power tools, and ATVs.


    The current study revealed that rural adolescents are exposed to noise sources that could damage their hearing. However, the majority of rural adolescents do not consistently wear hearing protection. Additional research is now needed to extend these findings by assessing rural adolescents' duration of exposure to different noise sources, in addition to investigating prevention of NIHL in this population.

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