Mass Transit Ridership and Self-Reported Hearing Health in an Urban Population
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Information on prevalence and risk factors associated with self-reported hearing health among mass transit riders is extremely limited, even though evidence suggests mass transit may be a source of excessive exposure to noise. Data on mass transit ridership were collected from 756 study participants using a self-administered questionnaire. Hearing health was measured using two symptom items (tinnitus and temporary audiometric threshold shift), two subjective measures (self-rated hearing and hearing ability), and two medical-related questions (hearing testing and physician-diagnosed hearing loss). In logistic regression analyses that controlled for possible confounders, including demographic variables, occupational noise exposure, nonoccupational noise exposure (including MP3 player use) and use of hearing protection, frequent and lengthy mass transit (all forms) ridership (1,100 min or more per week vs. 350 min or less per week) was the strongest predictor of temporary threshold shift symptoms. Noise abatement strategies, such as engineering controls, and the promotion of hearing protection use should be encouraged to reduce the risk of adverse impacts on the hearing health of mass transit users.