Type of Resources
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a type of hearing loss that after repeated exposure to high levels of sound for extended periods of time can result in damage to the fragile structures of the inner ear. Hearing changes caused by NIHL could be temporary or permanent. Hazardous noise levels in the workplace environment have been known to cause NIHL over time. Therefore, governing agencies have noise standards that have been enacted to decrease the risk of developing NIHL in the workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Mine Safety and Health Administration, and the Federal Railroad Administration are examples of these governing agencies. In addition, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the World Health Organization have provided best practice guidelines for prevention of NIHL by establishing permissible noise exposure criteria. Hazardous noise exposure is not only confined to the workplace but can be found in a variety of non-occupational settings including recreational activities. Occupational and non-occupational noise exposures are cumulative throughout a lifetime. However, there are no limits to reference for recreational exposures. Common recreational activities include target shooting, attending concerts, and attending motorsport or other sporting events among others. The motorsport industry is growing and includes countless aficionados partaking in motorsport events. Both recreational and occupational noise exposure studies have documented the risk for NIHL among individuals involved in motorsports. The range of sound pressure levels were between 63 dBA to over 100 dBA across studies investigating motorcycles, snowmobiles, stock cars, F1, monster trucks and tractor pulls (Bess & Poynor, 1974; Buhr-Lawler, 2017; Dolder et al., 2013; Jordan et al., 2004; Kardous & Morata, 2010; Moore, 2014; Morley et al., 1999; Rose et al., 2008; Ross, 1989; Van Campen et al., 2005). Hot rodding is a unique motorsport among other types that has not been evaluated for noise exposure of drivers, spectators, and event personnel. Due to an increasing number of individuals with NIHL, it is important that additional research is conducted to evaluate the noise exposures from motorsports that are contributing to this health issue. Development of prevention strategies and hearing conservation programs for individuals involved in motorsports is warranted. Recommendations for future directions and hearing health promotion activities targeting this population are provided. Audiologists can play a key role in the prevention of NIHL resulting from motorsport noise exposure by providing hearing conservation services, monitoring for auditory damage, and education for motorsport enthusiasts and employers.