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Tuesday, July 9 • 11:30 - 11:50
A PROTOTYPE INSERT-HEARING PROTECTOR TO MONITOR IN-EAR NOISE DOSE AND OTOACOUSTIC EMISSIONS.

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Workers and military personnel exposed to high noise levels increase their risk of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). In addition, individuals do not always use hearing protection devices (HPD) or, if they do, the HPD may not fit properly or provide adequate protection against high level noise. Hearing Conservation Programs conduct annual hearing monitoring which unfortunately provides limited ability to intervene before potential noise-induced damage to the cochlea; instead, these programs typically serve to document irreversible hearing loss. Monitoring noise exposure is an ideal way to assess risk before damage occurs, but it is difficult to measure complex noise environments that include high-intensity impulse sounds. We present on the development of an integrated device that (1) provides hearing protection; (2) measures the noise in the ear canal to generate an estimate of dose and correlate in-ear dose to ambient noise levels; and (3) monitors distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) and extended high frequency hearing over time. A prototype was built and tested in the laboratory using acoustic test fixtures in both continuous and impulsive noise. Measured noise attenuation reached 30dB or better at frequencies above 250Hz and was on par with a commercial earmuff (NRR of 28 dB) in the presence of impulse noise. The internal microphone could accurately measure impulses as high as 120 dB SPL [Peak Free-Field Equivalent], and as high as 152 dB SPL [Peak Free-Field Equivalent] when placed under commercial earmuffs. The prototype uses an SD card to record raw data during human studies and the battery was measured to last 3 hrs. during continuous recording. This "SuperPlug," will allow users to monitor the potential impact of auditory insults as close to the injury as is possible, and eventually enable real-time intervention such as pharmaceuticals, to mitigate pre-clinical hearing damage and prevent NIHL.


Tuesday July 9, 2019 11:30 - 11:50 EDT
Outremont 4
  T06 Industr. and occup. Noise & vib., SS01 Hearing protection