Posts Tagged ‘audiology’

Yesterday I came across an article in the New York Times titled, “Ban on Hearing Aids is Forcing Out Veteran New York City Police Officers“. In late 2009, the New York City police department began enforcing a ban on hearing devices. This ban has a large negative impact on current officers who have suffered a hearing loss, even those who have obtained this loss while working. Officers who have hearing loss are forced to enter disability retirement.

Police work itself causes hearing loss, yet officers are not allowed to aid this loss. As mentioned in the article, police officer Daniel Carione, 44, currently has hearing loss as a direct result of the job. On July 4, 1996, Mr. Carione was menaced by a drunken man with a knife, requiring him to shoot the man in self defense. Another officer on back up fired five shots, less than two feet from Mr. Carione’s ear. I can guarentee that these men did not have time to insert ear plugs before defending themselves. (I can further guarentee this was not even on their minds at the time). A job which requires exposure to impulse noise of 100 dB+ without proper hearing protection has no right to then descriminate against its own casualties.

Consider the listening levels police officers are subject to on a daily basis. Officers are exposed to all kinds of unsafe listening levels while on the job. A study conducted in France on French police officers found that police officers were 1.4 times more likely to have a 4 kHz hearing loss (a typical noise-induced hearing loss) than civil servents. American officers working in the subway system are exposed to at least 70 dBA at the platform multiple times an hour*- this is the threshold at which noise-induced hearing loss is considered possible. Some sources list subway noise to be as loud as 106 dBA (NYTimes), a level that can not be listened to for longer than 30 seconds before causing damage. Officers who work above ground are no safer; midtown Manhattan traffic is estimated to be between 70 – 85 dBA. The safe exposure duration for 85 dB is 45 minutes, a length of time I’m sure police officers exceed on an average work shift.

Why are police officers allowed to wear glass or contacts, but not hearing aids? Paul J. Browne, department’s cheif spokesman, declared hearing aids were not suitable with police work since they were vulnerable to “mechanical failure, earwax buildup or any number of things”. A properly cared for hearing aid will not malfunction anymore than glasses may break or fall off of your face, or contacts fall out or rip or tear. Perhaps a solution to this problem is to have a daily hearing aids check before officers report for duty. Wax guards can be changed, and batteries can be tested for strength. This is a process that would take 30 seconds, maximum. Police officers who are shamed into hiding their hearing loss by not wearing their hearing aids are putting themselves in danger, by not being able to hear their radios, fellow officers, or environmental warning cues around them.

This ban on hearing devices will do nothing but have police officers hide their hearing loss. Hearing loss should not be something to be ashamed of, since with proper amplification hearing thresholds can be that of a normal listening person. This ban on hearing aids is ridiculous, and the New York City Police Department needs to re-evaluate the way they see hearing aids. These are tools that will beneift seasoned police officers, officers who have the experience and the right to serve and protect New York City.

*Richard Neitzel, MS, Robyn R.M. Gershon, DrPH, MHS, Marina Zeltser, BS, Allison Canton, BA, and Muhammad Akram, PhD, “Noise Levels Associated with New York City’s Mass Transit Systems,” American Journal of Public Health, August 2009, Vol 99, No. 8, 1393-1399.

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Unitron- Hearing Matters!

An email popped up in my inbox today from Unitron-


The pictures we took at AudiologyNOW! are available to view online! I loved going through and seeing all the images. People’s favorite sounds ranged from heartwarming (babies laughing), to scary (the blast of a gun? Hopefully under proper protection!), to silly (Shazam!).

Oh! And what’s that? Page 8, top left corner? The best response of them all!

$5 per entry were donated to NEADS, an organization that has trained over 1300 assistance dog teams in all 50 States. As it costs about $20,000 to train each dog, I’m sure Unitron’s donation was much appreciated.

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If you haven’t seen this commercial, take a look now.

Ok, first of all, if these girls are hanging out, why do they each need their own personal music player? Put the song through speakers and be a little social. Jeeze. Secondly, TURN THE MUSIC DOWN! If their music is so loud that they are yelling over each other, they are listening at dangerous listening levels. My phonophobia makes me cringe, and the audiologist in me wants to give them a harsh talking to. These children are begging for a noise induced hearing loss. Listening to music over 85 dB for more than 5 minutes can cause hearing loss.

While I don’t know what headphones they are using, a seach for “behind the neck headphones” showed the following headphones and their maximum output levels:

Philips SBC-HS380: Maximum output = 102 dB

Philips SHJ070: Maxiumum output = 106 dB

Sony MDR G55LP/WG: Maximum output = 105 dB

EarHugger EH910vc: Maximum output = 115 dB!

The average output is 107 dB. Well over the safe limit. And while it is speculation, these girls are definitely listening to their music players at full volume. This is no scientific study of the commercial at all, but the commercial speaks enough for itself really. If you can’t hear someone speaking (shouting, really) less than a foot away from you, turn down your music player.

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