Date of Degree


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name





Adrienne Rubinstein

Subject Categories

Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene | Speech Pathology and Audiology


occupational music exposure, NIHL, dosimetry, otoacoustic emissions, musicians


The prevalence of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a public health concern with government regulations (i.e. OHSA, NIOSH) in place to protect employees in occupational settings. Sound pressure levels (SPL) of various industries have been measured and exposure dosages monitored as per the national regulations. Previous research has demonstrated that occupational exposure to loud noise has led to audiometric evidence of NIHL. Thus, it raises the question about the impact of occupational exposure to music on hearing. For the purposes of this capstone, literature pertaining to occupational music exposure levels, and the effects on both hearing threshold levels and otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) were systematically reviewed. The evidence provides some support that musicians and other workers in music environments are indeed exposed to occupational noise in the form of music at levels which are consistent with those considered to be potentially damaging, as delineated by regulatory agencies. However, the exposure dose and duration is highly variable, dependent on the particular type of music, setting, schedule, and instrumentation. There are limitations in the way noise exposure can be measured; nevertheless, the use of dosimetry presents representative data that needs to be taken into account when evaluating the occupational noise level that musicians face. Areas of further research need to encompass the highly diverse nature of musicians’ employment. Results also revealed decreased hearing thresholds in those exposed to music occupationally in a number of studies. Furthermore, otoacoustic emissions were shown to be an effective clinical and research tool in evaluating NIHL susceptibility and signs of auditory damage post music exposure. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine if the hearing loss endured by musicians can be causally linked to their music exposure. Risk reduction measures, including educational initiatives, hearing protection, and audiometric monitoring, are recommended in nearly all of the studies examined.