Principal Investigator: Rick Neitzel
Description: The proposed study of 24-hour noise exposure and hearing levels among 40 individuals in a Ghanaian gold mining community will provide a variety of information relevant to occupational hearing loss prevention efforts. First, this study will represent the first evaluation of both occupational and nonoccupational noise exposures among Ghanaian gold miners. This is a group without access to hearing protectors, and likely with little or no knowledge of the risk to hearing presented by high noise exposure. Second, this study will provide a first-of-its-kind cross-sectional analysis of hearing levels among Ghanaian gold miners; this, combined with measures of noise exposure, may allow for the construction of a crude exposure-response relationship between noise and hearing loss. Third, this study will also collect blood levels of several heavy metals, and a comparison of these blood levels to noise exposures and hearing ability may help characterize the potential risk of hearing loss resulting from synergistic interactions between noise and heavy metals exposure.