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Noise hurts! NHL fans risk hearing damage with levels 31 times a day's safe limit, study says
By Sharon Kirkey, CanWest News Service
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
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.
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