2015 CPE Tradeshows

April 21, 2015

The Custom Protect Ear team actively attends ongoing Tradeshow and events in Canada. This is an excellent time to learn more about the dB Suite of Products: dB Blocker, dB Com,  dB Life and FitCheck Solo.

Come see us at the following shows. Remember to tweet us and let us know you’re coming. @protectear #cpe

April 28-29
PIP 2015
International Centre, Mississauga, ON
Booth #713

April 28-30
2015 Williston Basin Petroleum Conference
Evraz Place, Regina, Sk

May 5-7
Enform Petroleum Safety Conference
Banff, AB

May 6, 2015
Safety Expo
Oromocto, NB

June 14-15
2015 BC Municipal Health & Safety Conference
Whistler Conference Center, Whistler

Sept 20-23
CSSE 2015 PDC & Exhibition
Ottawa, ON

Click here to view USA shows

VISIT US AND GET CUSTOM FIT SOLUTIONS

Our custom fitting process usually takes about 10 minutes and typically begins with one of our highly trained experts visiting the customer’s plant or workplace in order to do the fitting on-site.

We begin by first inspecting the ear to make sure it’s safe to take an impression. Then an oto-dam is placed inside the ear to protect the eardrum. Impression material is prepared and carefully injected into the client’s ear. The material hardens quickly, and moments later, the impression is gently removed.

The impression creates an exact replica of the wearer’s ear canal and outer ear. This ensures the dB Blocker seals the ear both in the canal and around the ear. Making every dB Blocker unique to the ear it fits.

See our video to learn how to wear your dB Blockers™

 

Remember * dB Blockers ™ are the hearing protectors you can hear through.

Call us today! CALL 1800-520-0220

Precious Hearing: Shouting from the Roof Tops

March 10, 2015

As International Ear Care Day 2015 just passed,  I’d like to discuss some of the strange ways we treat our precious hearing.

Why do we call our hearing ‘precious’ (is there a better word than precious?).

Dr. Barry Blesser of MIT in a speech to The National Hearing Conservation Association in 20121, pointed out the our ears are different from most other senses. They are fully functional at birth. They remain ON 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, until we cease to exist. As Dr. Blesser put it, we have no ear lids. With them being so valuable and unique, why do we abuse them in a way we don’t abuse any other sense. As children, we cover our eyes to protect them from bright light, cover our ears for loud noise, and shy away from hot or sharp objects (for the most part). At some point in our development, we maintain our protective actions for everything but our ears. As teenagers the lure of the power of music overcomes our sense of preservation. This sense of oto­invincibility (that our ears can take anything) caries on through adulthood for many of us. We go to concerts and revel at the power of the music. Some of that power comes from shear acoustic power of the performance.

Recently, I went to a Keith Urban concert. The opening act was moderately loud at 93 decibels. The next act, a bit louder at 98 dB and the Keith came on and the sound levels peaked at 110 dB (only someone in the hearing conservation business wearing two hearing aids would spend time measuring this in a concert ­ with an app on my phone. Notice I use the term sound, not noise).

While these were peak values, it is interesting to note that all three acts are using the same sound system for the concert. How loud is that?

Let me use an industrial context to illustrate my point.

Hearing Conservation

There are hearing conservation regulations in many countries defining how loud the sound can that a worker is exposed to. In some countries, once a level of between 80 and 85 decibels is reached, a worker will need to wear hearing protection regardless of the amount of time they were exposed to the sound. Their hearing will be consider safe if they remained in the noise up to 8 hours as long as they wore something to block the sound in their ears. Eventually what will happen is the sound level will rise above that level (the level at which they need to wear a hearing protector). There’s a calculation of the amount of sound energy to which the ear can be exposed as the sound rises. In many jurisdictions if the sound rises 3 decibels, the amount of time you can be exposed to that sound is just in half. For example, if the sound rises from 85 to 88 decibels, the safe exposure time drops from 8 hours to 4 hours. If it rises to 91 decibels, the safe exposure time is 2 hours. (In this I am referring to the sound level underneath anything being worn to protect your ears from sound).

For this example, let’s assume the protector being worn is only providing 1 decibel of protection. That’s not realistic but it simplifies the illustration because many people don’t use hearing protection at all). For those of you reading this who were of the understanding there would be no math, I apologize.

What’s the point. Let me go back to Keith’s concert.keith urban

If it wasn’t a concert casino but was an industrial workplace, the 90 minutes Keith played at sound levels would be unsafe. Actually, using the method of calculating how long we could safely be exposed to those levels of sound above, if we assumed an average sound level 100 decibels for Keith’s 90 minute concert, we’d have to either leave of protect our ears with earplugs after 15 minutes. What happens after 15 minutes? It’s complicated but the risk of hearing damage rises dramatically.

Why am I picking on Mr. Urban? I’m not. I’m using his concert as an illustration of the problem. WE, the audience, are demanding our entertainment and our
entertainers gives us this kind of energy. In Europe, especially Sweden, earplugs are commonly worn in loud venues. NFL football games last 2 1/2 to 3 hours and sound levels recorded at the 50 yard line have been record at exceeding 110 dB. Using the same math as above, the stands should be emptied after 3 3/4 minutes or have all the fans wear earplugs or muffs. Hockey game noise levels have been measured at 104 dB. At that level we should have fans wear earplugs or limit the game to one

7 1/2 minute period. Not realistic? Sure it is. The obvious choice is for the people, we fans, to get our energy from the play, the performance, the action and not the sound level. Stevie Wonder concerts have fans movin’ and groovin’ at safe hearing levels. Leonard Cohen concerts are exceptional events with moderate sound levels. Showing my age? Possibly. The point is, it is possible to enjoy sports and entertainment without loosing your hearing.

Producers of these events must make protection available and give guidance to the audience about the need to wear it. To not do so is to conscious hurt people and I doubt that’s their intent. Either than, or enjoy Keith’s 15 minute concerts.

Custom Protect Ear Spreads The Word About International Ear Care Day 2015

March 3, 2015

Custom Protect Ear Spreads The Word About

International Ear Care Day 2015

March 3, 2015, Vancouver BC, Custom Protect Ear, North America largest personalized industrial hearing protector manufacturer shares in spreading the word about International Ear Day.

International Ear Day is an initiative of The World Health Organization to focus attention on the damage people are doing to their ears. Designated at the First International Conference on Prevention and Rehabilitation of Hearing Impairment in Beijing, China in 2007, the Day aims to raise awareness and promote ear and hearing care across the world.[1]

In 2015, the theme for International Ear Care Day is ‘Make Listening Safe’. This theme will draw attention to the rising problem of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). NIHL can be immediate or it can take a long time to be noticeable. It can be temporary or permanent, and it can affect one ear or both ears. Even if a person can’t tell that they are damaging their hearing, they could have trouble hearing in the future, such as not being able to understand other people when they talk, especially on the phone, in a noisy room or at a noisy worksite. Regardless of how it might affect you, one thing is certain: noise-induced hearing loss is something that be prevented[2]

For years hearing professionals have been trying to determine why people suffer from hearing loss. There are companies that do routinely measure how loud these noises are, plus they measure how much of that loudness people are exposed to. Hearing loss has become a worldwide problem, however there are devices and processes to do something about danger of Noise Induced Hearing Loss.

Hearing protection devices have been around since the 1930’s with companies like Honeywell, 3M, and Custom Protect Ear committed to finding better ways to make hearing protection. Custom Protect Ear makes a device called dB Blockers, which is hearing enabled. This means that people/workers can wear the dB Blockers in a noisy place over a long period of time and will not experience the affects of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)

“dB Blockers not only block noise, they also  manage the noise to the ear to a safe level. Given our human propensity to keep safe, especially in loud threatening noise, is it any wonder workers/people choose safety for the whole human over safety for their ears? ” ~ says Jeffrey Goldberg President of Custom Protect Ear 

March 3rd, International Ear Care day is a day for awareness and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The day highlights general awareness about recreational hearing loss has potentially devastating consequences for physical and mental health, education and employment. Join Custom Protect Ear and The World Health Organization in following the hearing loss activities that have been organized for the International Ear Care Day.

About Custom Protect Ear

For over three decades, Custom Protect Ear has been the leader in providing effective, verifiable, and noise level matched hearing protection at a cost lower than disposable earplugs. As North America’s largest personalized industrial hearing protector manufacturer, hearing conservation is their only business.Custom Protect Ear devotes all of their research and expertise to the innovation of making better hearing protection. As a result, Custom Protect Ear has made significant technological advances in the development of superior hearing protection.

For More Information please contact

Jeffrey Goldberg
Custom Protect Ear
604 599 1311
Jeffrey@protectear.com

 

[1] http://www.who.int/pbd/deafness/news/IECD/en/index1.html

[2] http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/noise.aspx

International Ear Care Day: ProtectEar

March 2, 2015

Ear Care Hearing loss

What is International Ear Care Day?

It’s an initiative of The World Health Organization to focus attention on the damage we are doing to our ears.

Let me pose a question.

What would be the government’s response to 1/3 of a population coming down with the same disease?

  • 2 million people in New York develop the flu.
  • 5 million people in Southern California develop Chicken Pox or Measles.

The response would most certainly be swift and decisive.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Did you know that 1/3 of the people working in noise have a workplace illness called Noise Induced Hearing Loss. Now it is not exactly the same as acquiring a deafness illness, however the damage is done because the onset of their hearing loss has taken place over many years; whereas in the scenarios I sighted above the onset of the disease is more immediate.

Many of us wonder how did this happen?

For years hearing professionals have been trying to determine why people suffer from hearing loss. We certainly know these industrial sites and noises can be loud and damaging. Not only do we routinely measure how loud they are, we also measure how much of that loudness workers are exposed to. So we know the danger. We also have devices and processes to do something about that danger.

For example, there are companies capable of engineering the noise out of facilities. How prevalent is that? United Technologies recently won the prestigious Safe-in-Sound award from NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, a Branch of the Center for Disease Control) and The National Hearing Conservation Association for removing enough noise from their workplaces to move 80% of their noise exposed workers (8,000 people) from their hearing conservation programs world wide. We are also educated in ways to protect our hearing when exposed to noise.

Hearing Loss – A bigger problem

Hearing protection devices have been around since the 1930’s with companies like Honeywell, 3M, and Custom Protect Ear committed to finding better ways to make hearing protection. So what’s the problem?

Let’s start with engineering the noise out of facilities. A recent pole of Canadian companies suggested that about 10% of them measure the noise exposure of their workers. That does not mean they don’t know what noise levels they have; they do. (The difference between noise level and noise exposure is how much time the worker spends in what level of noise). It’s the amount of noise a worker is exposed to over a given time that the company has to control; but many companies don’t know what that is. Protecting their workers based on the noise level rather than noise exposure usually means that in most cases you’re actually over protective. This is based on the assumption that someone who works in 95 decibels of noise seldom is in the noise for 8 hours, without breaks.

Then where’s the problem?

The following contains some conjecture unproven, as yet, by independent study

Most organizations will provide their workers with hearing protectors sufficient to protect their hearing from the noise they are exposed to. Some of the workers will use it properly and some don’t. To understand why, we need to look at the human condition. Dr. Barry Blesser states that since man first descended from the trees, it is our hearing that has been our primary safety sense. Hearing can detect dangers we can’t see. Unlike other senses, the ears are fully functional when the human is born; the rushing waterfall hidden by the trees, a large animal crashing through the undergrowth, a charging wildebeest coming around a rock are audible before they are visible. It is possible we are genetically wired to rely on our ears to keep us safe.

The one thing we can assume about places with loud noises is that something dangerous is making that noise. Then to protect our hearing from that loud noise we usually render them partly or fully non-functional by plugging them. At this point I need to point out that Custom Protect Ear’s dB Blockers are hearing enabled. They don’t block as much as manage the noise to the ear to a safe level. Given our human propensity to keep safe, especially in loud threatening noise, is it any wonder workers choose safety for the whole human over safety for their ears? Often they disable the full protection the hearing protection device offers. I think it’s to keep safe.

As I said, this has yet to be conclusively proven by independent study but the fact remains that workers routinely don’t leave their earplugs fully in place when exposed to noise. What’s the solution? A recent roundtable at the National Hearing Conservation Association Annual Conference in New Orleans agreed that we need to know the answers to the question of Why workers disable their protection. Until we do, we should provide workers with hearing enabled devices, with effective education as to their use, and the dangers of not using it. We owe it to them. Especially on International Ear Care Day.

Jeffrey Goldberg | President
Custom Protect Ear

International Ear Care Day 2015

February 26, 2015

International Ear Care Day

Make Listening Safe: Spread the Word

Prevention of blindness and deafness

International Ear Care Day is an annual advocacy event held on 3 March.

Designated at the First International Conference on Prevention and Rehabilitation of Hearing Impairment in Beijing, China in 2007, the Day aims to raise awareness and promote ear and hearing care across the world.

Each year, this Day addresses a specific theme and activities are carried out by WHO and its partners. In 2014, the theme was “Ear Care Can Avoid Hearing Loss”. This theme targeted all age groups and promoted hearing health through ear care. In conjunction with the Day, WHO released the report Multi-country assessment of national capacity to provide hearing care. Partners and countries across all regions hosted activities and events to mark the Day, including Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Guinea, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Lesotho, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia. In 2013 the theme was “Health Hearing, Happy Life – Hearing Health Care for Ageing People”. The Day was marked by the release of global data on the number of people with hearing loss.

In 2015, the theme for International Ear Care Day is ‘Make Listening Safe’. This theme will draw attention to the rising problem of noise-induced hearing loss. It raises the alarm that millions of teenagers and young people are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events. It highlights that such recreational hearing loss has potentially devastating consequences for physical and mental health, education and employment. The following activities have been organized for the International Ear Care Day at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland:

Read Full Article

Please Spread the Word on Making Listening Safe.

We have included some Marketing Collaterals to spread the word; please download and share them.

ENGLISH BROCHURE

 ENGLISH POSTER

FRENCH BROCHURE

 FRENCH POSTER

SPANISH BROCHURE

 SPANISH POSTER

More assets can be found on the WHO website.

International Ear Care Day 2015

Thank you, the gift of giving

February 16, 2015

Giving Back to the Community

The picture below inspired me to write to you this month. I’m not blowing the company’s horn when I want to talk about giving back to the community. Why? Because there’s plenty of research to show that we are actually genetically predisposed to being our brother and sister’s keepers.  In fact, giving back, leaving the world a better place than we found it, is basic tenant of many of the world’s religions and philosophies.  At Custom Protect Ear is part of our mission statement.

Custom Protect Ear’s Mission Statement

Jeff-&-Howard-CPE-Our main way of giving back is to arm people with the tools to keep their hearing.   We try to do that while having as little impact on our planet as possible. Now please don’t misunderstand us.  We are not a charity.  We need to make money so we can keep doing this for another 40 years (yep we’re almost 40 years old – I wonder what that is in ear-years?). It is just that simply making money isn’t why we get up in the morning.   The WHY of ProtectEar is to arm people with the tools they need to save hearing. Learn more about dB Cares. 

OK back to the picture. Some years ago, we canvassed ProtectEar associates about what kind of helping we could do that they thought would be meaningful. After some discussion, helping those that were already trying to help themselves but just not able to manage seemed to resonate.  The Food Bank fits that description.  So does the community centre that charges based on ability to pay, and the summer camp that provides free camping experiences to children whose parent(s) are not able to pay.

I offer this to you in the hope that it will resonate with you. Do something for somebody to help them have a better day, week, month, life.

Warm Regards,

~ Jeffrey Goldberg,
President of Custom Protect Ear

Hi! I’m your ear

December 8, 2014

Hi! I’m your ear.

OK, I know you have two. I’m your right ear, but I am talking to you with the full awareness, permission, and authority of my sibling, your left ear.

Why am I talking to you now? Well, I have some things to say for myself, on behalf of my sibling, your left ear, and the rest of your hearing (auditory) system while I still can. You see, when you hear from one or all of us otherwise, such as when we buzz, roar, or ring, it means that’s something is wrong. So, I’d like to take this opportunity now while things are still right and otherwise quiet.

When you think of me, you think of what you see hanging off the left and right side of your head. I know that because my cousin, your brain, told me so. Those aren’t really your ears; they’re only a part of the neighbourhood.

So, being self-centered, let me start by describing myself and I’ll get around to talking about my neighbours, some of whom are cousins, later.

When you were born, you had two sense organs that were fully developed: your nose and your ear.

Your eyes were still a work in progress. In fact, so was your brain. (In fact, unless you’re over 25 years old, your brain is still a work in progress. Just ask the car rental companies.)

So, soon after you were born I started training my cousin your brain, by means of the 8th cranial nerve (don’t you just love it when I talk medical), to listen. The 8th nerve is also called the Auditory Nerve. That training is quite a job. Other than the signals I sent that are translations of the sounds I received, I had to send noises so that your brain could start making “sound maps” that would be useful later as you became aware of the world around you. You know things like recognizing your mother’s voice and in learning to understand what your mother was saying to you.

I knew this already, but there have been recent scientific studies as to the earliest age for a baby to recognize his mother’s face from the faces of others and the earliest age when a baby can recognize his mother’s voice. While a baby as young as three months can recognize his mother’s face, that baby already could recognize his mother’s voice after a few days and at 100% accuracy. Wow, I bet that comes in handy.

While on the topic of mothers, let me tell you two other things. While I can hear sounds while in the womb, even my mother playing music, my upstairs cousin, the brain, can’t make sense of them since those sound maps I have to send haven’t been formed. So enjoy the music, but don’t think that you are doing me any favours. The sounds I hear from my mother’s body are sufficient, thank you.

Second, is that I am the second oldest perceptual organ from an evolutionary point of view. Your sense of smell is developmentally older. Early life first needed to respond to chemicals around them to know whether they were about to eat or be eaten. Response to pressure changes in the surrounding fluids came second. Thus, those early animals that could respond to the chemicals around them and the pressure changes so that they were predator instead of prey lived to pass on their genes. Responses to chemicals became smell, and taste, and responses to pressure changes became hearing.  So much for history.

That scoop fastened to the outside of the head isn’t me. That just focuses sound for me. You can’t see me, or my sibling. I am located deep inside in the temporal bone portion of your skull; the hardest bone in the body. I am made up of a long curled-up tube that has a membrane-like organ dividing it and I am filled with fluid. I share the fluid with the balance system. Inside this membrane-like organ, called the organ of Corti (because Corti was the first person to describe it) are 30,000 hair cells, I have only 5,000, called inner hair cells, that send information to the brain to be processed as sound; speech, music, Harley-Davidsons, etc. The other 25,000 are there to tune the system for optimal hearing precision, both in terms of loudness and pitch. They are called outer hair cells. Think of them as fast-responding pre-processors so that my 5,000 inner hair cells can send the best and most accurate information on up to the brain. To keep my 30,000 hair cells active and healthy are about 500,000 other cells and structures.

I am up and working 24/7/365 for as long as you live. I don’t get time off. You have no earlids you can close to shut out sound. Even if you did, I’d be hearing the sounds the rest of your body makes anyway. It’s pretty noisy in here all of the time what with your breathing and pulse. My cousin the brain has a habit of turning off processing what I am sending so that you can sleep, but I am sending anyway.

The way I send information to the brain is via the lower portion of the Auditory Nerve. The balance system gets the upper portion to send its information.  Here is a sketch of me, my neighbours, and my cousins. I am the part coloured in violet and labelled cochlea.

Ear Drum

The way I get sounds is pretty fantastic from an engineering point of view.

Remember, I said that I was filled with fluid. You don’t live underwater, so sounds come to you through air. If you have ever been in a swimming pool, a lake, or even the ocean, when you completely submerge your head underwater, you can’t hear the sounds above you up in the air very well. That is because when sound strikes a surface such as water, more than 99.99% of it is reflected away and only 0.01% of it gets into the water.  Same with me. If sound came directly to me without first getting managed by my neighbours, you would have a hearing loss of at least 40 dB (that means enough so that a person whom you can now hear clearly when talking to you from a yard (about 1 meter) away would now have to be 4 inches (10 mm) away to sound as loud).

So, who are my neighbours participating in this engineering marvel?

Coming from outside of your head, what you call your ear is often called the pinna or auricle. Scientists, as recently as in the 1970s, thought the pinna to be a vestigial organ (in other words not very useful), sort of like they did the appendix in your gut. Now they know, and I have known all along of course, that the pinna is vital for collecting sounds, particularly those in the higher frequencies, and doing so in such a way that the brain can make use of the information I send. With the pinna, you can tell if sounds are coming from in front or from in back. Without the pinna, you can’t. And while some animals can move their pinna to allow hearing to be more directional, we primates don’t have that ability or, apparently, necessity. It’s the bowl of the pinna that is especially useful for getting high-frequency sounds to me.

Connected to the pinna is the ear canal. It is a tube a little over an inch long (2.54 cm). It has two primary, albeit passive, functions. First, it provides a stable temperature at the eardrum. This is important, because if the temperature at the eardrum were to change much above or below body temperature, my cousin the balance system could be affected and you’d get dizzy. Second, it amplifies sound in the higher frequencies where there is a lot of low-intensity information in speech. The ear canal is lined with skin, the same as the rest of your body. The outer two-thirds of it has glands that produce oils that combine with dust, dirt, and sloughed off skin cells to make ear wax. There are hairs in the ear canal that work to push the ear wax out.

On behalf of the ear canal I’d like to inform you that only one thing smaller than your elbow belongs in your ear canal, an earplug to protect me from loud sounds. Keep your Q-tips® out! What happens when you use a cotton swab, hairpin, or unfolded paper clip to clean out your ear is that you can cause scratches that can become infected. And rather than clean it out you can push the wax in further and, once inside far enough, it’s not coming out on its own. It can stay to form a dam, trap water behind it, or just pack up enough to completely close off the ear canal, giving you a hearing loss. Plus, even if you do succeed in getting the wax out, you’ll eventually rub off the hairs that are supposed to push the wax out on their own. So, keep out everything other than earplugs and if wax comes out when you remove an earplug, clean off the earplug.

At the end of the ear canal is my eardrum.

Its outer surface is a thin lining of skin, its middle structure is made of fibres to give it shape, while its inner surface is made from mucous tissue like the lining of your mouth. That starts the middle ear, which is an air-filled space that contains, among other things, three small bones, the ossicles, the smallest bones in your body. They are set up in a lever arrangement with the end of the smallest bone connecting to me. As sound strikes the eardrum, it is converted to vibration that is delivered to me. The ratio of the area of the ear drum to that of the plate of the small bone driving me is 30:1. By the time I get the vibes, most of the 99.99% of sound that would have been lost has been recovered, well at least 98% of it.

So, I get the good vibes courtesy the eardrum and the ossicles and convert them into neural information and send that information up the 8th nerve to the brain. Remember, I’ve trained the brain to listen; that is, make sense of what I’m sending. Along with what my sibling on the left side sends, I can let the brain figure out from which direction a sound is coming: left, right, up, down, front, back, or on the side at 30 degrees to the right, from slightly above me, and moving. The brain can sort out speech from noise if I send the correct information.

Remember the bit about earplugs?

You need to know this: I am the most active organ you have. That is, I consume more oxygen and nutrients, allowing for my weight, than any other organ your body has, including my cousin your brain. If you’ve ever been deprived of oxygen, you may have notice the first thing to happen is that sounds become distorted and you may even have heard a buzz.

The range of sound pitches I can process range from just above vibration at 15 cycles per second (now called Hertz – abbreviated Hz – after a German physicist) to more than 20,000 Hz. At least I could when you were born. I can also hear sounds so soft as to be near the random noise air molecules make (called Brownian motion after another physicist) to as loud as the noise from a rocket being launched.  When sounds become too loud for me to handle safely, I can have the brain send a message back to two muscles in the middle ear to change the lever action of the three bones of the middle ear, reducing their efficiency. But this takes time, so I get the initial insult from loud sounds.

Notice that I used the word insult. That’s just what loud sounds are. Once the sound gets above a certain level, it’s simply too much for me to handle cleanly and safely. It’s the equivalent of a light being too bright, and this trick with the middle ear bones is similar to squinting and really no more effective.

If these sounds are loud enough and long enough, I get bruised and you lose some hearing for a while. I may be sending other sounds related to the bruising to the brain and you’ll perceive these as a ringing, buzz, or a roar. Your hearing will sound muffled. Give me a rest and I’ll recover, but not without a mark. Some of my 2500 inner hair cells may not come back. They’ll die. They won’t be replaced. All of the hair cells I had the day you were born is all that I am ever going to get.

Now, for a while, I can work around the loss of hair cells.

Between me and the brain, we can cover for the loss so that you won’t notice it. But, eventually, when enough are lost, when I am bruised and battered by loud sounds, we won’t be able to work around the loss and you’ll begin to develop a loss of hearing. I’m designed to work best when the loudest sound I hear is you, your voice. I need protection from regular exposure to sounds louder than your voice or I’ll get bruised, giving you a temporary loss of hearing. Eventually, I’ll be battered and that hearing loss will become permanent.

There is a cultural myth that implies that everyone loses their hearing as they age to the point of being deaf. It’s a myth because it’s not true. Yes, when I’m 85 I won’t be as spry as when I was 8 or 18, but I’ll still be functioning well enough for you to hear your grandchildren and the song birds in the neighbourhood.  You shouldn’t have to crank up the sound of the television to the point where your neighbours hear the evening news from your TV.

But, to get to that point, there are few conditions. First, you need to be healthy and free from disease. I don’t mean that you need to go to extremes, just stay well. Second, if you’re from a family that is predisposed to loss of hearing – we don’t understand it, but some people are – then pay close attention to your hearing. Third, protect me from loud sounds. As a rule of thumb, if you have to raise your voice to have a face-to-face conversation with someone more than 1 yard (meter) from you, you need to be protecting me. You can do that two ways: 1) get away from the noise or 2) use your earplugs or earmuffs (or your fingers to plug up your ears if necessary) to reduce the noise I get.

While really loud music may be entertaining, it hurts me.

You generally can’t play music loud enough on your home stereo to be hurtful to me. Someone will be telling you turn it down or it won’t sound goodEar at high level anyway. But you can play your earphones on your music player (iPad, iPod, Chip, Geek Wave, or even your smart phone) loud enough. You can also install a car audio system that plays loud enough to impress your friends, annoy your neighbours, and hurt me. Instead of turning it up to 11, turn it down to 5.

You can also be exposed to dangerously loud music at live concerts.

If you’ve noticed that the performers are wearing custom earplugs for their monitors, you should be wearing your earplugs to protect me. The same goes for sporting events where fans are constantly engaged in cheering or jeering such as hockey or football. Further, there is no such thing as a tractor pull or automobile race that is quiet enough to be safe for me, so take your earplugs with you as you leave for the event.

Do you like to hunt or shoot?

The loud crack from the weapon firing may be satisfying to you, but it hurts me. You like working with hand tools? Do you realize that the sound of each hammer blow hurts me? So the great feeling you get from driving a nail or breaking down a wall for home rehab doesn’t feel so good to me. Power tools, lawn mowers, leaf blowers and such are also dangerously noisy for me. So, as a rule of thumb, if you’re going to protect my cousins, your eyes, protect me.  If you have to shout to be heard over the noise, PROTECT ME.

If you do notice that I am losing it, act early.

Please, don’t be vain, don’t be a denier. See a hearing-health professional and ask about getting me some help (a hearing aid). The less time that the brain and I have to work around your loss of hearing, the better you’ll do with a hearing aid. While you’re at it, become extra aggressive about protecting the hearing you have left. I came into this world when you were born ready to go and just needed to complete some training for your brain on how to listen.  I plan on sticking around as long as you do, so a little help would be appreciated.

Stay healthy, avoid loud noises and music, and use hearing protection when necessary, and my sibling over there on the left and I will be here working 24/7/365 as planned.

National Hearing Conservation Association 2014

March 24, 2014

NCHA Conference: Stop Gambling with your Hearing.

recap by Jeffery Goldberg

The 2014 conference of the National Hearing Conservation Association just concluded.

This year the conference was in Las Vegas which was, for a conference normally situated in smaller locations like St. Petersburg and Tuscon, NHCA different. Because Las Vegas is home to massive conventions with hundreds of thousands of attendees, having a conference with 300 attendees not get trampled in the confusion is quite a feat (actually the conference was located in Summerlin, a retirement community northwest of Las Vegas).

This year’s conference was focused on many aspects of the hearing conservation program but chief among the podium presentations was a focus on making and using hearing protection. Unlike previous years, there was much made of custom hearing protection as though this sometimes forgotten form of hearing protection had been recently rediscovered by researchers. Tracks for Musicians, the Military, and Audiologists also allowed those with special interests to delve into research in those fields.  This conference was most illuminating shining a light on many areas of new hearing research.

NEW! at the NHCA 2014 Conference

As well, not on the podium but present was an exhibition accompanying the conference. Unlike some years past, there was new and exciting information this year.

FitCheck Solo

Dr. Kevin Michael of Michael & Associate, introduced a new device for verifying the fit of ear muffs and showed updates to his popular FitCheck Solo Fit Testing Program (by way of full disclosure Custom Protect Ear (in Canada) and ProtectEar USA sell and train users for FitCheck Solo).  There was much interest in FitCheck for Earmuffs as people have long looked for a way to determine if an earmuff was protective enough.

Also New at this years conference, was an introduction for digital scanning on the ear. Lantos Technologies showed their digital ear scanning device (one of 3 companies with such a device currently in development). Lantos has tapped Brian Fligor formerly of Boston Children’s Hospital as their Chief Audiology Officer.  Brian has a long history are a preeminent research on matter of hearing conservation. His joining Lantos augers for an exciting introduction for this new technology.

3M and Howard Leight division of Honeywell we present with new types of hearing protection and Fit Testing systems on display. If you’re reading this blog, and have an interest in hearing preservation, you should think about becoming a member of the association.  Check out their website at Hearingconservation.org . 

Now you know that Disneyland is sometimes called the happiest place on earth. Well, the Rampart Casino in Summerlin, attached to the Marriott housing the conference, is its opposite – the unhappiest place on earth. No this is not sour grapes because I lost some money. In fact, I didn’t even play.  This is my observation of the folks sitting in the casino, any time of the day or night, looking like they had or were about to loose their best friend.  No matter when I walked through the casino (and in Las Vegas, architects have mastered designing the hotel so that everywhere you want to go is on the other side of the casino) I never saw a smile. Just folks sitting at slot machines and gaming tables wishing they were somewhere else but not having the ability to go there. 

Next year, the NHCA conference is in New Orleans in February. If you have any interest, think about coming to check it out. You don’t have to join the Association to come to the conference (it is just cheaper if you do).   Until next time…

Jeffrey Goldberg | President
Custom Protect Ear Inc.

 

Alternative to Relying on the NRR

February 25, 2014

Measurement of Insert-type Hearing Protector Attenuation on the End-user: A Practical Alternative to Relying on the NRR

NRR Data

Hearing protectors are labeled with a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that is derived from laboratory measurements of the attenuation provided to trained and motivated human subjects in a ‘sterile’ environment. As intended, these measurements represent a best-fit condition. The literature indicates that the average attenuation provided to end-users of hearing protectors is often only a fraction of the labeled values. Because of this, various derating schemes are employed, including the 50% derating suggested in the OSHA inspector’s Technical Manual and the variable derating according to protector-type suggested in the 1998 NIOSH criteria document on occupational noise exposure.

De-rating the labeled NRR

De-rating the labeled NRR provides a better estimate of the average attenuation realized by a population of end-users. However, field measurements indicate that attenuation provided across end-users is highly variable (standard deviation > 10 dB), so many wearers will receive much greater attenuation than the average, and many will receive much less attenuation than the average. Therefore, if hearing protectors are selected according to a de-rated NRR, some individuals will still be under-protected and some will receive excessive attenuation, leading to potential communication problems. A solution to this problem is to base the selection process on objective data obtained by measuring the attenuation provided to each end-user of insert-type hearing protectors.

dB Blocker

In this article the Steel Industry experience is examined when it comes to individual hearing protector fit-testing.  In this industry Almost all HPD wearers at this plant wear insert-type devices. To learn more about the wide variability of attenuation provided by insert-type protectors a results please click here to download the entire study: DOWNLOAD PDF 

 

 

Field Attenuation Estimation Systems: THE POSSIBILITIES

February 11, 2014

Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

Hearing protectors are labeled with a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) that is derived from  laboratory measurements of the attenuation provided to trained and motivated human subjects in a ‘sterile’ environment. As intended, these measurements represent a best-fit condition. The literature indicates that the average attenuation provided to end-users of hearing protectors is often only a fraction of the labeled values. To learn more about the practical alternative to relying on the NRR, click here. 

Custom Protect Ear would like to present a FREE  WHITEPAPER about obtaining Personal Attenuation Rating (PAR) that is compared to Noise Reduction Rating (NRR).

Field Attenuation Estimation Systems: THE POSSIBILITIES

Would it be nice if you could determine how effective a hearing protector was under workplace conditions. In Appendix FAES The PossibilitiesIV:C of the OSHA Field Manual, Methods for Estimating HPD Attenuation, U.S. OSHA states, “The actual effectiveness of any individual hearing protector cannot be determined under workplace conditions” (U.S.Department of Labor). This has never been completely true. It has been difficult, but not impossible, to determine the actual effectiveness of any individual hearing protector for any individual user because of two issues. First, there has been no available commercial product for testing hearing protector effectiveness for the individual user until just recently – for less than 10 years compared to an OSHA regulation on noise and hearing conservation that dates back almost 45 years in its most skeletal form. Second, there have been no accessible commercial methods for determining the effectiveness of any individual hearing protector for any individual until recently. In fact, now there are three:

  • There are methods involving simulations of the real-ear attenuation at threshold (REAT) using large-cupped earphones to place over the ears to test earplugs. (Michael and Associates FitCheck, Workplace INTEGRA, Inc. INTEGRAfit, NIOSH Well-Fit and FitCheck Solo)
  • There are methods involving having a person balance the loudness of a signal presented to an open ear to that of a signal presented to an ear occluded with an earplug.
  • There are methods that employ the use of a sub-miniature or probe microphone placed in a surrogate protector to predict what attenuation a user would receive when wearing the actual hearing protector in a similar manner.

To read complete paper fill out the form to get the Field Attenuation Estimating System Whitepaper Report. Click here: