National survey exposes attitudes to noisy environments

In August 2012, Australian Hearing’s research division, the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), teamed up with ABC Science to launch Sound Check Australia, a national online survey of noise exposure.

woman with consultant at NAL

The project was selected as the ABC’s annual Citizen Science survey with the aim of building more knowledge about hearing loss among Australians; the amount of time we’re spending in noisy environments during our leisure activities; how often we’re using headphones or earbuds to listen to audio; and attitudes towards noise and noisy leisure environments.

In total, more than 8000 people completed the survey, with a further 6000 doing an online hearing check.

Here are some of the early findings:

  • 551 participants identified themselves as regular nightclubbers, with 96 per cent of this group recognising there may be at least a little risk to their hearing from the noise levels at clubs and 40 per cent thinking the risk to their hearing from noise levels at clubs is high.
  • When it comes to tinnitus, 23 per cent of respondents said they experienced it occasionally, 18 per cent sometimes and 21 per cent frequently or always. More than 60 per cent reported that their tinnitus became more noticeable after being in a noisy environment.
  • Between 35 per cent and 45 per cent of young people (those aged 15–25) said they believed their leisure activities posed a risk to their hearing. About a third of young people said they had experienced symptoms or warning signs that indicate that their hearing has been damaged, and over 80 per cent said they would be more careful about their noise exposure if they noticed their hearing starting to deteriorate.
  • Those aged 40 and under used personal audio devices 2.4 hours per day on average, whereas those over 40 averaged 1.6 hours per day. The average volume level setting for those under 40 was 61 per cent (approximately 66 dB LAeq) and for those over 40, the average volume level was 52 per cent.
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