Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Epidemiology of Firearm and Other Noise Exposures in the United States

  • Author(s): Bhatt, JM
  • Lin, HW
  • Bhattacharyya, N
  • et al.

Identify contemporary noise exposures and hearing protection use among adults.Cross-sectional analysis of national health survey.Adult respondents in the 2014 National Health Interview Series hearing survey module were analyzed. Potentially harmful exposures to occupational and recreational noises in the past 12 months were extracted and quantified. Patterns of hearing protection use also were analyzed.Among 239.7 million adults, "loud" and "very loud" occupational noise exposures were reported by 5.3% and 21.7%, respectively. Of those exposed to "loud" or "very loud" sounds at work, only 18.7% and 43.6%, respectively, always used hearing protection. A total of 38.2% (1.9 million) of those with "very loud" occupational exposures never used hearing protection. Frequent (> 10/year) "loud" and "very loud" recreational noise exposures were reported by 13.9% and 21.1%, respectively, most commonly to lawn mowers (72.6% and 55.2%, respectively). When exposed to recreational "loud/very loud" noise, only 11.4% always used hearing protection, whereas 62.3% (6.3 million) never used any protection. Lifetime exposure to firearm noise was reported by 36.6% of adults, 11.5% of whom had used firearms in the prior 12 months. Of those, only 58.5% always used hearing protection, whereas 21.4% (7.4 million) never used hearing protection.Substantial noise exposures with potentially serious long-term hearing health consequences frequently are occurring in occupational and recreational settings, and with the use of firearms. Only a minority of those exposed consistently are using hearing protection. Healthcare providers should actively identify and encourage the use of hearing protection with those patients at risk.4. Laryngoscope, 127:E340-E346, 2017.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC Academic Senate's Open Access Policy. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View