A new study released by the University of Washington School of Public Health in partnership with Alaska Sea Grant shows strikingly high rates of hearing loss among Alaskan fishermen. While about 15% of Americans have some level of hearing loss, about 80% of the fishermen that participated in the study were found to have hearing loss during the physical exams conducted for the study.
According to the study authors, this research is the first of its kind in the United States. It draws connection between the fishermen’s hearing loss and the daily exposure of engine noise, as well as further noise exposure during the off season related to snow machining, hunting, and construction jobs.
The results of the study have spurred an increased interest in hearing exams among the locals in Cordova, Alaska. “Partnering with our public health nurse from Juneau, we provided hearing screenings for 62 people in just four hours. We were very surprised at this response. It was an excellent opportunity to assist folks with tracking an often missed or lower priority health condition,” said Torie Baker, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent in Cordova.