High blood pressure, cholesterol associated with noisy jobs: NIOSH

1 in 4 adults report having been exposed to loud noise at work


High blood pressure and high cholesterol are more common among workers exposed to loud noise at work, according to a recent study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).


Researchers also found that one-quarter of workers in the United States — an estimated 41 million people — reported a history of noise exposure at work.


“Reducing workplace noise levels is critical not just for hearing loss prevention — it may also impact blood pressure and cholesterol,” said NIOSH director John Howard. “Work site health and wellness programs that include screenings for high blood pressure and cholesterol should also target noise-exposed workers.”

High blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol are key risk factors for heart disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women. Loud noise is one of the most common workplace hazards in the U.S. affecting about 22 million workers each year.


NIOSH researchers analyzed data from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey to estimate the prevalence of occupational noise exposure, hearing difficulty and heart conditions within industries and occupations. They also looked at the association between workplace noise exposure and heart disease.


The NIOSH research revealed 12 per cent of workers currently had hearing difficulty, 24 per cent had high blood pressure and 28 per cent had high cholesterol. Of these cases 58 per cent, 14 per cent, and nine per cent, respectively, can be attributed to occupational noise exposure.


Industries with the highest prevalence of occupational noise exposure were mining (61 per cent), construction (51 per cent), and manufacturing (47 per cent).


Occupations with the highest prevalence of occupational noise exposure were production (55 per cent); construction and extraction (54 per cent); and installation, maintenance and repair (54 per cent).


“If noise could be reduced to safer levels in the workplace, more than five million cases of hearing difficulty among noise-exposed workers could potentially be prevented,” said study co-author Liz Masterson.