Hearing impairment among Korean farmers, based on a 3-year audiometry examination
Sujin Lee 1
Kyungsuk Lee 2
Soo-Jin Lee 1  
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Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, College of Medicine, Hanyang University, Korea
Agricultural Safety Engineering Division, National Academy of Agricultural Science, Rural Development Administration, Korea
Introduction and objective:
Work noise exposure among farmers can cause hearing loss. Farmers are exposed to hazardous noise from equipment and domestic animals, and experience high rates of noise-induced hearing loss. The aim of our study was to evaluate the hearing thresholds of farmers in Korea. This study is the first to evaluate hearing impairment in Korean farmers nationwide. There have been few studies that have performed audiometric testing to measure hearing impairment at the national level in Korea.

Material and methods:
Through the Farm Work Safety Model Project among the 40 villages in which inhabitants received health check-ups from 2006–2008, 2,027 people from 35 villages were targeted (957 people in 16 villages in 2006, 436 people in five villages in 2007, and 634 people in 14 villages in 2008) and underwent pure tone audiometry tests. 2,027 people from 35 villages underwent pure tone audiometry tests through the Farm Work Safety Model Project. The tests were conducted using a portable audiometer, and air conduction thresholds were determined.

Hearing impairment at 3kHz and above was more prevalent in men than in women. The prevalence of moderate-to-profound hearing impairment was 19.6% in the total study population and increased with age.

It is proposed that the high prevalence rate of farmers’ hearing impairment may be due to excessive workplace noise. To manage farmers’ hearing health, precise evaluations of farmers’ hearing acuity and noise exposure on farms should be conducted. This study might be a stepping-stone to protect farmers’ hearing health.

Soo-Jin Lee   
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, College of Medicine, Hanyang University
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