Military personnel working in high noise environments can be exposed to continuous noise levels up to 150 dB. United States (US) Department of Defense (DoD) Hearing Conservation Programs (HCPs) [1–3] set safe noise exposure limits to reduce the risk for noise induced hearing loss. These daily noise exposure limits were based on ambient noise levels and the duration of time spent in that noise environment. Current dosimeters, worn on the lapel of personnel and at least one system worn under a hearing protector, were designed to measure noise levels and calculate noise dose, but do not provide a validated measure of noise dose external to or under a hearing protector. Noise dose under hearing protectors can be estimated by subtracting the real ear attenuation (REAT) data, collected in accordance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) S12.6 [4], at each octave band from the ambient octave band noise. This procedure gives accurate results for group data, but does not account for individual variations in effective attenuation. To address this issue, the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) led the development of ship suitable in-ear dosimetry integrated into a hearing protector, and co-sponsored an effort executed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to calibrate in-ear noise dose readings. This was accomplished by conducting human noise exposure experiments, with and without hearing protection, which calculated noise dose from temporary threshold shifts (TTS) in hearing. Ten subjects participated in the study. Noise levels were 91, 94, and 97 dB for up to 2 hrs, 1 hr, and 30 minutes respectively. These exposure levels were well within US DoD safe noise exposure guidelines (DoD HCP) [1–3]. Data will be presented describing the open and occluded (protected) ear TTS response to noise dose achieved by subjects in the experiment. Preliminary findings indicate that human subject data is extremely important in developing and validating calibration factors for any type of noise dosimeter but is especially important for in-ear dosimetry. Results from this study demonstrated that the REAT noise dose estimations and the in-ear dosimetry earplugs consistently overestimated the effective noise dose received by subjects. However, more than 10 subjects are required to improve the confidence level of the estimated calibration factor.

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