Firefighters sue manufacturers over hearing loss

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Four firefighters in Pittsburg have filed a civil lawsuit against seven manufacturers of sirens and fire trucks, claiming they are responsible for their permanent hearing loss. They claim the companies “knew or should have known that the products…were inherently dangerous, defective and hazardous to human hearing”. “The damage is invisible. It's internal to your ear,” said Dr. Catherine V. Palmer, director of audiology andhearing aids in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “It's permanent damage, and it's generally gradual.”

Studies of hearing damage to firefighters have long shown noise-induced hearing loss. In 1992, former U.S. federal Fire Administrator Olin L. Greene said noise “is probably the most underrated health hazard” for firefighters. A 2007 study by University of California professor Oisaeng Hong, director of the Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing Program at the school's campus in San Francisco, said roughly 40 percent of all firefighters in the United States are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss. Both said ear protection can help reduce damage.

“These studies have also found a substantial increase in high-frequency hearing loss related to the amount of time spent in the emergency services. The cases of hearing loss are irreversible and incurable,” Greene said. “They are also preventable.”

Source: Trib Total Media

Rose Simpson