High levels of noise at work, in addition to affecting hearing, also alter blood pressure and cholesterol in greater proportion, according to a study released Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“A significant percentage of the workers we studied have hearing difficulties, high blood pressure and high cholesterol that could be attributed to noise at work,” Liz Masterson, co-author of the study, said in a statement.
24% of workers exposed to loud noises have high blood pressure and 28% to high cholesterol, while 12% have hearing difficulties, said researchers from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the CDC.
“Workplace health and wellness programs that include high blood pressure and cholesterol screening tests should also include workers exposed to noise,” John Howard, director of NIOSH, said in a statement.
According to the analysis, one out of every four adults in the country reported having been exposed to high levels of occupational noise, which is considered one of the most common occupational hazards, affecting annually around 22 million workers in the United States.
Mr. Howard said it is “fundamental” to reduce noise not only to prevent hearing loss, but to prevent heart problems, which are associated with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The researchers also found that a quarter of American workers, approximately 41 million people, reported a history of noise exposure at work.
The study was based on data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey to estimate the prevalence of exposure to occupational noise, hearing difficulty and heart conditions.
“If noise could be reduced to safer levels in the workplace, more than 5 million cases of hearing difficulties could be prevented among workers exposed to noise,” Masterson said.
The CDC explained that the industries with the highest prevalence of exposure to occupational noise were mining (61%), construction (51%) and manufacturing (47%). Meanwhile, occupations with the highest prevalence of exposure to occupational noise were production (55%), construction and extraction (54%), and installation, maintenance and repair (54%).