Apple's Hearing Health Study Demonstrates How the World Is Too Loud

The research is being conducted through the firm's Research app.
Loukia Papadopoulos

Apple is using its Research app to do some good in American communities. The firm has conducted a hearing study to assess the hearing health of citizens in the United States and to encourage people to take better care of their hearing.

The study is being conducted in collaboration with the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and data is being shared with the World Health Organization’s Make Listening Safe initiative.

“Hearing loss can impact a person in many ways, and our goal is to drive increased focus on the importance of hearing health across decision makers and the general population,” said in a statement Ren Minghui, assistant director-general of the World Health Organization.

“We encourage people to take the appropriate steps to protect their hearing and to seek care when needed.”

The findings

The study has thus far found that 25 percent of participants experience a daily average environmental sound exposure that is higher than the WHO recommended limit and that nearly 50 percent of participants now work, or have previously worked, in a loud workplace. In addition, 20 percent of participants have hearing loss when compared to WHO standards, and 10 percent have hearing loss that is consistent with noise exposure. 

Perhaps the scariest finding of the research was that 25 percent of participants experience ringing in their ears a few times a week or more, which could be a sign of hearing damage. 

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“One year into the Apple Hearing Study, we’ve generated significant insights into everyday noise exposures and the impacts of those exposures on hearing among our participants. The national scale of this study is unprecedented,” said Rick Neitzel, associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

“Even during this pandemic, when many people are staying home, we’re still seeing 25 percent of our participants experiencing high environmental sound exposures. The results of this study can improve our understanding of potentially harmful exposures, and help identify ways that people can proactively protect their hearing.” 

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