AUDITORY AND NON-AUDITORY EFFECTS IN FOOD GRINDERS EXPOSED TO NOISE IN CALABAR, NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

Introduction – Noise exposure has been found to cause auditory and non-auditory effects on those exposed to it. Noise induced hearing loss is highly prevalent in occupational settings. This study aimed to assess the work place noise exposure level among food grinders and other market traders Methods – A comparative cross sectional study was carried out among 220 traders (110 grinders and 110 non-grinders) in four markets in Calabar. Noise exposure levels were measured for each participants at work using the sound level meter. Auditory and non-auditory effects were assessed and compared between both groups. Results – Mean age of respondents was 28.9 ± 9.7 years, ranging from 18 to 70 years, with no significant difference comparing subjects (29.6 ± 9.2 years) and controls (28.3 ± 9.5) (t = 1.0, p = 0.30). Most subjects (158, 71.8%) were within 21 to 40 years old, and there was no significant difference in age groups comparing subjects and controls (p>0.05) Results showed that a majority of food grinders (97%) were exposed to noise levels greater than 85 decibels. There was a significant difference in mean noise exposure level comparing subjects and controls (90.3 4.5dB vs. 17.3 3.8dB p 0.05). Those exposed to noise >85dB were significantly more likely to have hearing impairment compared to those not exposed (76.0% vs. 2.7%, p<0.05). A significantly higher proportion of subjects compared to controls had abnormal blood pressure (15.5% vs. 5.5% p 0.05). A higher proportion of subjects compared to controls had normal mental health scores below 5 (11.8% vs. 0.0% p 0.001) Conclusion – The study shows that a significant noise problem exists among the food grinders resulting in hearing impairment in excess. This therefore highlights the need to urgently tackle the rise of auditory and non-auditory effects of noise exposure especially among grinders.

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