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Cartoon
Winter, 2007

Happy, quiet new year!


Hockey noise a hazard

Noise hurts! NHL fans risk hearing damage with levels 31 times a day's safe limit, study says

By Sharon Kirkey, CanWest News Service


Hockey games can be ear-shattering, according to Edmonton researchers who went to several Stanley Cup final games last spring and found they squeezed 31 times a day's safe noise limit into just three wild hours. The noise level when the Edmonton Oilers scored against the Carolina Hurricanes - 120 decibels - was roughly equivalent to a jet taking off. The average level - 104 decibels - was like having a chainsaw running a metre and a half away, for three straight hours. Overall, people who sat through Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final between Edmonton and Carolina at Edmonton's Rexall Place stadium received roughly 3,100 per cent of their "daily
allowable noise dose," even though the game lasted less than three hours.

The researchers say spectators may need protection, just like the players. "There are a number of things we do in this world that we don't think of as potentially risky in terms of hearing loss. We don't think about it when we go to concerts, or movies, or even with noisy toys," said lead author William Hodgetts, a professor of audiology at the University of Alberta. The main thrust of the study, published Dec. 5, 2006 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, is not that watching hockey is hazardous, he says."I can certainly imagine Don Cherry giving me a hard time, saying, 'What are these idiots saying, that hockey isn't supposed to be loud?' We're not trying to take the fun aspect away from hockey fans, but for a couple of pennies, throw a couple of earplugs
in and protect your hearing."

According to the paper, excessive exposure to loud sounds is the leading cause of preventable hearing loss, and most noise- induced hearing loss is caused by workplace exposure. Laws are in place to protect workers' hearing, but hearing loss caused by other noise is paid little heed, Hodgetts and co-author Richard Liu write in the CMAJ. The study began "as a bit of a lark", Hodgetts confesses, but by early Monday he had already given seven media interviews and "my e-mail keeps bouncing". To test the auditory damage inflicted by live hockey, Liu wore a noise dosimeter to Games 3, 4 and 6 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final bet ween the Oilers and the Hurricanes at Rexall Place, described as one of the loudest stadiums in the National Hockey League. The dosimeter measured and logged the noise level near Liu's ear during the entire game. "Thus, no matter where he was in the building, the dosimeter sampled his noise exposure," the researchers report.

Continued on page 2


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