July 4, 1777, just one year after the Declaration of Independence had been approved and read publicly, our young nation paraded the streets and celebrated our independence by lighting bonfires, chiming bells, and setting off fireworks. Since then, fireworks have become the hallmark of our modern Fourth of July festivities. Whether you are an active participant or simply a bystander, fireworks explode throughout every town in the United States on this celebratory day. You might be able to run from them, but you definitely cannot hide, as the sound they produce can be heard from miles away. Fireworks can reach between 150 and 175 dB pSPL. This noise level could be compared to the sound level of firearms or a jet plane takeoff. In other words, the sound level of fireworks is painfully loud and can lead to temporary or even permanent noise-induced hearing loss (Boys Town Hospital; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2017; Ryan et al, 2016).
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Public Awareness
Create a press release to send to your local media.
- Update your website with noise-induced hearing loss prevention information.
- Provide fact sheets on noise-induced hearing loss in your waiting room and at noisy events.
- Distribute hearing protection devices at noisy events; include information on the importance of protecting your hearing and your business information.
- Consider visiting your local schools to help educate children about noise and how to protect their hearing. For ideas.
Fireworks are just one noise source that can lead to significant hearing loss. About 40 million American adults have hearing loss due to noise exposure (NIDCD, 2017). Children are also at risk, with up to 12 percent of children between 6 and 19 years of age demonstrating hearing loss attributed to noise (Niskar et al, 2001). As audiologists, we have the tools and knowledge to provide appropriate information and preventative measures before noise exposure, as well as evaluation and management options for those with noise-induced hearing loss. This is the perfect time for audiologists to provide hearing health information and care to patients, families, and community members who might be at risk, especially during the summer holiday season.
The American Academy of Audiology has tools and resources available to gain visibility and media coverage. Public relations can be daunting, but the Public Relations Tool Kit is a good place to learn about how to work with the media. When you’re ready, you can download a Press Release Template—not only does this provide a public service over the July 4 holiday, but also provides visibility to you as a local hearing health-care professional. The Public Awareness area on the Academy’s website provides numerous resources for you to provide to your patients and neighbors. Click here for the information you need to get started on your own local initiative to reduce the risk for noise-induced hearing loss this summer.
American Speech–Language–Hearing Association. (2017) Loud Noise Dangers. www.asha.org/public/hearing/Loud-Noise-Dangers (accessed April 26, 2018).
Boys Town Hospital. (2017) Fireworks Can Lead to Hearing Loss. www.boystownhospital.org/knowledgecenter/articles/hearing/pages/fireworks.aspx (accessed April 26, 2018).
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/noise-induced-hearing-loss (accessed April 29, 2018).
Niskar AS, Kieszak SM, Holmes AE, Esteban E, Rubin C, Brody DJ. (2001) Estimated prevalence of noise-induced threshold shifts among children 6 to 19 years of age: the third National Health and Nutrition Survey, 1998-1994, United States. Pediatrics 108:40–43.
Ryan AF, Kujawa SG, Hammill T, Prell CL, Kil J. (2016). Temporary and permanent noise-induced threshold shifts. Otol Neurotol 37(8); e27 1–5.