Millions of people are exposed to excessive noise at work, finds a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This affects not only their hearing, but also their heart health.
In the United States, around 22 million workers “are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year,” say the U.S. Department of Labor.
So far, workplace noise has mostly been viewed as a hazard for hearing, with $242 million being spent every year to compensate individuals for hearing loss caused by work conditions.
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Now, a study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) — which forms part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — reveals that loud noise in the workplace is also associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The results of the research, which was undertaken by Elizabeth Masterson and colleagues from the NIOSH, are now published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
“Reducing workplace noise levels is critical not just for hearing loss prevention — it may also impact blood pressure and cholesterol,” says Dr. John Howard, director of the NIOSH.
That is why, he urges, “Worksite health and wellness programs that include screenings for high blood pressure and cholesterol should also target noise-exposed workers.”
Noise at work is a real health hazard
High cholesterol and high blood pressure, or hypertension, are officially listed as top risk factors for heart disease, and the CDC note that about 610,000 people die because of heart-related problems each year.
By lowering the presence of relevant risk factors, the risk of heart disease decreases. That is why it is so important to understand what situations could affect exposure to these risks.
In the new study, the scientists worked with data sourced from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey, so they could get an understanding of:
how many people were exposed to excessive noise in the workplace on a regular basis
how many people had a hearing-related condition
how many people lived with a heart condition