Modern transit carries risk of hearing loss, UW researcher says

Many people are exposed to health and safety issues in the workplace, but how many think about the risk of the commute? Rick Neitzel, research scientist in the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, does. He studies health and safety issues in the workplace, with a focus on noise and vibration.

Most recently Neitzel, along with researchers from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, has been measuring noise levels at transit platforms and stations and inside New York City subways, buses and ferries. Their findings concluded that subway noise could increase the risk of noise-induced hearing loss to some frequent transit riders.

The research team is now delving into how long people are exposed to noise levels and what groups of people may be most at risk of hearing loss.

Which means, says Neitzel, what people do in their spare time—hunting, going to sporting events and rock concerts, listening to MP3 players and even commuting—may present the biggest risks for hearing loss.