Tag Archive: National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health

Looking for a free professional grade sound level meter app?

Photo credit: NIOSH blog

Look no further: Introducing the new NIOSH Sound Level Meter App. Yes, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has just released a free sound level meter app for IOS (Apple) devices. Recognizing that “most of the apps on the market are oriented at the casual user and lack the accuracy and functionality necessary to conduct occupational noise measurements, NIOSH hearing loss researchers collaborated with an app developer, EA LAB, to create an iOS based sound level meter app that measures and characterizes occupational noise exposure similar to professional instruments.”

NIOSH has developed this app so that “workers around the world [can] collect and share workplace (or task-based) noise exposure data using their smartphones.” And once the data has been collected, “[s]cientists and occupational safety and health professionals could rely on such shared data to build job exposure databases and promote better hearing health and prevention efforts.”

NIOSH is making the app available to anyone who would like to download it. Click here to learn more about the app and for the link to download it at the App Store. NIOSH is looking for any and all feedback about the app and asks that you help them spread the word about this new tool for protecting workers’ hearing.

Safe noise exposure for the general public

Daniel Fink, M.D., Interim Chair of the Quiet Communities Health Advisory Council, has written a post for the Quiet Communities’s blog that tackles a question which is rarely addressed: What noise level IS safe for preventing hearing loss?

In his post, Dr. Fink discusses the seeming contradiction between a 1974 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determination that “a 24-hour average noise exposure level of 70 decibels (dB) or less prevent[s] measurable hearing loss over a lifetime” with statements from various governmental and nonprofit organizations that suggested that “a much louder noise level − anything up to 85 dB − was safe for our ears.”  In the course of researching the issue, he received a communication from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that explained where the 85 dB figure came from; the information in that communication formed the basis of a post on NIOSH’s Science Blog in February 2016 (which is discussed here).

Long and short, the NIOSH communication explained that the 85 dB was an occupational noise exposure standard developed to protect workers over a lifetime of work, whereas the EPA determination of 70 dB averaged noise exposure over 24 hours was believed to protect the general public from hearing loss over a lifetime.  As Dr. Fink notes that the clarification of the difference in noise exposure limits is important in setting public policy and protecting public health, and he concludes that, based on his research, “[t]he much lower 70 dB average noise exposure level is the only published safe noise level to protect the public’s hearing.”