Researchers from the United States Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have found that aside from constituting hearing impairment, a noisy work environment can lead to heart diseases like hypertension and high cholesterol.
The scientists, who embarked on the study to establish the effects of noisy workplace on human health, recently published their findings in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
According to the director of the institute, Dr John Howard: “Reducing workplace noise level is critical not just for hearing loss prevention — it may also impact blood pressure and cholesterol”.
The findings, reported on Medical News Today revealed in addition to the established hearing hazard brought about by noisy office environment, stressed that high cholesterol and high blood pressure, or hypertension, are officially listed as top risk factors for heart diseases and many Nigerians have been affected by this work hazard.
Dr Howard thus urged “Worksite health and wellness programme officers to include screenings for high blood pressure and cholesterol for noise-exposed workers.”
Elizabeth Masterson and colleagues who conducted the research noted that when these relevant risk factors are reduced to the barest minimum, then the risk of heart diseases will as well be drastically reduced.
To arrive at their findings, the scientists worked with data collected from their 2014 National Health Interview Survey, for better understanding of their respondents.
Their analysis revealed that 25 percent of workers in the United States had been exposed to potentially damaging levels of noise during their work history. Also, 14 percent of current workers in the country had been exposed to excessive noise at work over the past 12 months.
Elizabeth Masterson and colleagues also found that 12 percent of workers reported a hearing-related problem, while 24 percent of workers had hypertension, and 28 percent exhibited high cholesterol. Among those with hearing problems, 58 percent had acquired these issues due to exposure to high noise levels in the workplace.
“More surprisingly, many individuals with high blood pressure or high cholesterol also reported noise exposure. Thus, 14 out of 24 percent of the workers with hypertension, and 9 out of 28 percent of those with high cholesterol, had acquired these conditions in noisy workplaces”, the team stated.
Ranking industries according to their potential damaging levels of noise, the researchers named mining, construction, and manufacturing as the top three, with 61 percent, 51 percent, and 47 percent occupational noise prevalence, respectively.
“A significant percentage of the workers we studied have hearing difficulty, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol that could be attributed to noise at work,” Masterson notes.
“If noise could be reduced to safer levels in the workplace, more than 5 million cases of hearing difficulty among noise-exposed workers could potentially be prevented,” she adds.
While calling on the management of organisations, where employees are specifically exposed to damaging noise levels, to ensure regular screening for their staff members, the team leader said this will go along in reducing the incidence of heart diseases and hearing impairment among Nigerians.