Effects of common agricultural tasks on measures of hearing loss

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BackgroundAmong agricultural populations, hearing loss caused by excessive noise exposure is common. However, examinations of associations between exposure to agricultural tasks and hearing loss are limited.MethodsAudiometry and lifetime exposure to 11 agricultural tasks were analyzed among 1,568 participants. Gender stratified multivariable linear regression was used to estimate associations between exposure duration and three hearing loss metrics.ResultsAmong men, significant associations were observed between hearing loss and hunting or target shooting, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or motorcycle riding, chain saw use, electric or pneumatic tool use, living on a farm, and all agricultural tasks combined. When all significant exposure metrics were included in a single model, associations remained for hunting or target shooting, electric or pneumatic tool use and living on a farm. Significant associations were sparse among women, and in all cases paradoxical.ConclusionsDespite imprecise estimation of noise exposure, specific agricultural tasks were associated with hearing loss. Am. J. Ind. Med. 55:904–916, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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