IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Occupational Hearing Loss and Presbycusis

  •   November 01, 2018

Montréal, November 1st, 2018 – The Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) recently published a review of the literature on the links between occupational hearing loss and presbycusis (hearing loss due to aging). The objective of this study was to (1) determine whether exposure to noise can accelerate the process of presbycusis; (2) establish whether the use of correction factors can enable occupational hearing loss and presbycusis to be differentiated; (3) assess the progression of hearing loss after the worker is no longer exposed to workplace noise. To that end, the researchers analysed the content of some 30 scientific studies published since 2000.

Human and animal studies clearly show that exposure to noise in the workplace accelerates the process of presbycusis. “A number of authors go as far as to suggest modifications to the classical concept of presbycusis that links this type of hearing loss to aging alone. In their opinion, presbycusis is the result of the cumulative and synergistic effect of hearing impairment risk factors, including exposure to noise in the workplace,” states the principal author, Tony Leroux, professor at the Université de Montréal’s school of speech-language pathology and audiology.

Moreover, recent data “raise questions about the value of correction factors based on the premise that the slow degradation of hearing thresholds is attributable solely to an intrinsic aging factor, when there is evidence that some of this damage may be due to noise exposure. […] The risks of underestimating or overestimating the effect of age are significant and impossible to predict accurately,” argues the study.

With respect to the progression of hearing loss, some animal studies have shown that the degeneration of the anatomical structures related to hearing is observed for several months and even years after cessation to noise exposure.

The review of the literature can be consulted free of charge at To learn more about the IRSST’s research, follow us on the Web, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube.

Jacques Millette
Manager of Public Affairs