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NIOSH Links Noise, Heart Disease

Monday, April 2, 2018

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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health researchers recently released a study that analyzed data regarding occupational noise exposure, hearing difficulty and heart conditions within U.S. industries.

Published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, the NIOSH study also delves into the correlation between workplace noise exposure and heart disease.


According to Occupational Health & Safety, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are more common among those exposed to loud noise at work. Loud noise affects roughly 22 million workers each year. In turn, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, with high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol being key factors.

© / daizuoxin

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health researchers recently released a study that analyzed data regarding occupational noise exposure, hearing difficulty and heart conditions within U.S. industries.

The researchers’ findings indicated that:

  • 25 percent of current workers have a history of work-related noise exposure, with 14 percent exposed in the last year;
  • 12 percent of workers had hearing difficulty, 24 percent had high blood pressure and 28 percent had high cholesterol; from these cases, 58 percent of those with hearing difficulty, 14 percent of those with high blood pressure and 9 percent of those with high cholesterol could attribute these conditions to occupational noise exposure;
  • Industries with the highest incidents of occupational noise exposure were mining at 61 percent, construction at 51 percent and manufacturing at 47 percent; and
  • Occupations with the highest incidents of noise exposure were production at 55 percent; with construction and extraction, and installation maintenance and repair both at 54 percent.

"This study provides further evidence of an association of occupational noise exposure with high blood pressure and high cholesterol and the potential to prevent these conditions if noise is reduced," said study co-author Liz Masterson.

"It is important that workers be screened regularly for these conditions in the workplace or through a health care provider so interventions can occur. As these conditions are more common among noise-exposed workers, they could especially benefit from these screenings."


Tagged categories: Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; NIOSH; North America; Occupational noise; Research

Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (4/2/2018, 8:39 AM)

This is very informative information. Government should make these findings more frequent to the public and to employers.

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (4/2/2018, 10:03 AM)

High noise is a stressor, which induces high blood pressure. Not stretch to see that chronic exposure to high noise could have a link to heart disease.

Comment from Donald Flynn, (4/3/2018, 9:40 AM)

Need more research as correlation does not really indicate causation. My experience(>20years including as Site Safety Officer) is that folks in the industries with high noise exposure (as cited) tend to lead life styles (esp. smoking) and have eating habits, that lead them into high blood pressure and heart conditions. Of course loud noise is an additional stressor but...

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (4/4/2018, 11:04 AM)

Donald, I'll 100% agree that there are likely many additional risk factors for many of these folks, but the physiological responses to loud noise are well documented in medical science.

Comment from Kevin Guth, (4/5/2018, 1:53 AM)

The study did not find a correlation, but rather "an association." This is a term commonly used in the field of epidemiology. The important thing to take away from such an article is the strength of the association. The threshold for concluding that an agent was more likely than not the cause of an individual’s disease is a relative risk greater than 2.0. According to the Reference Guide on Epidemiology, “An association identified in an epidemiologic study may or may not be casual. Assessing whether an association is causal requires an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the study design and implementation, as well as a judgment about how the findings fit with other scientific knowledge.” In the risk assessment field, the methodology for determining the cause of an occupational induced disease/condition is as follows: 1) exposure and dose 2) literature precedence 3) confounder analysis 4) temporality 5) Biological plausibility and consistency.

Comment from William Feliciano, (4/6/2018, 4:32 PM)

Interesting article. I wonder if this research can be corroborated by studying the lives of children and adults who live in neighborhoods over which airliners fly over upon takeoff. Planes taking off from La Guardia and JFK airports in NYC can generate loud noises over such neighborhoods every 40 seconds almost.

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