French horn players at risk of hearing loss

30 September 2013, 16:31

It's not just rock concerts that could damage your hearing: orchestral horn players are particularly vulnerable to hearing damage, according to a new study

Spending large amounts of time surrounded by loud brass tunes takes its toll on the hearing of French horn players, according to a study due to be published in the November issue of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

Researchers from Australia measured the hearing of 142 French horn players at an international meeting of the instrumentalists. Among professional horn players 40 or younger, there were signs of hearing loss in between 18 percent and 33 percent of them, after the researchers adjusted the findings to account for age and gender.

They also posed questions to the players asking how many of them used earplugs during performances. Only 1 in 5 players used hearing protection, with only 11% of the players using them in every performance.

Due to their seating positions in the orchestra, brass players are blasted with the loudest noises, usually in the range of around 86 –98 dB. In many European countries, the equivalent continuous noise exposure limit for an eight hour working day is set to 85 or 90 dB.