Journal Articles

Publication Date



International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


Firefighters are susceptible to auditory dysfunction due to long-term exposure to noise from sirens, air horns, equipment, and tools used in forcible entry, ventilation, and extrication. In addition, they are exposed to ototoxic chemicals, particularly, during overhaul operations. Studies indicate that 40% of firefighters have hearing loss in the noise-sensitive frequencies of 4 and 6 kHz. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is often accompanied by tinnitus, which is characterized by ringing noise in the ears. The presence of phantom sounds can adversely affect the performance of firefighters. However, there has been limited research conducted on the prevalence of tinnitus in firefighters. We enrolled firefighters from Michigan, with at least 5 years of continuous service. The hearing handicap inventory for adults (HHIA) was used to determine the difficulty in hearing perceived by the firefighters and the tinnitus functional index (TFI) was used to determine the severity of tinnitus. Self-perceived hearing handicap was reported by 36% of the participants, while tinnitus was reported by 48% of the participants. The TFI survey indicated that 31% perceived tinnitus as a problem. More importantly, self-perceived hearing handicap was significantly associated with the incidence of tinnitus in firefighters, suggesting a potential link between occupational exposure to ototraumatic agents and tinnitus in firefighters.


Adult, Cross-Sectional Studies, Data Collection, Female, Firefighters, Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Occupational Exposure, Self Concept, Tinnitus

Included in

Public Health Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.