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Noise Health. 2012 Nov-Dec;14(61):330-42. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.104903.

The use of the kurtosis metric in the evaluation of occupational hearing loss in workers in China: implications for hearing risk assessment.

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State University of New York, Plattsburgh, NY 12901, USA.


This study examined: (1) the value of using the statistical metric, kurtosis [β(t)], along with an energy metric to determine the hazard to hearing from high level industrial noise environments, and (2) the accuracy of the International Standard Organization (ISO-1999:1990) model for median noise-induced permanent threshold shift (NIPTS) estimates with actual recent epidemiological data obtained on 240 highly screened workers exposed to high-level industrial noise in China. A cross-sectional approach was used in this study. Shift-long temporal waveforms of the noise that workers were exposed to for evaluation of noise exposures and audiometric threshold measures were obtained on all selected subjects. The subjects were exposed to only one occupational noise exposure without the use of hearing protection devices. The results suggest that: (1) the kurtosis metric is an important variable in determining the hazards to hearing posed by a high-level industrial noise environment for hearing conservation purposes, i.e., the kurtosis differentiated between the hazardous effects produced by Gaussian and non-Gaussian noise environments, (2) the ISO-1999 predictive model does not accurately estimate the degree of median NIPTS incurred to high level kurtosis industrial noise, and (3) the inherent large variability in NIPTS among subjects emphasize the need to develop and analyze a larger database of workers with well-documented exposures to better understand the effect of kurtosis on NIPTS incurred from high level industrial noise exposures. A better understanding of the role of the kurtosis metric may lead to its incorporation into a new generation of more predictive hearing risk assessment for occupational noise exposure.

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