GIS-Based Noise and Hearing Loss Screening in Publishing Factory

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Background: In many industries, noise is attributed as the most prevalent harmful agent threatening workers' health. Geographic Information System (GIS) is an applicable surveying tool in civil engineering. But, the use of GIS for noise and hearing loss screening seems to be partly a new approach. Objectives: This study aimed to apply GIS in noise and hearing loss screening in the production hall of a publishing industry. Patients and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on 46 employees working in the production hall of a publishing industry in Iran. First, workers' hearing threshold was examined by Pure-Tone Audiometry (PTA) at 250-8000 Hz frequencies. Then, the production hall area was divided into squares (6 × 6 m2), taking sound pressure levels (SPL) in each square center by a sound level meter (SLM) according to ISO-9612; 2009. Noise and hearing loss maps were drawn, by Arc GIS-9.2, for different areas of the production hall. Results: Noise measurements revealed that total sound pressure levels (SPL) in the production hall ranged from 72.3to 94.5 dBA. From the total area of production hall, 20% of it was found to be exceeding the threshold limit value (SPL ≥ 85 dBA) on the GIS-prepared noise map. Fisher exact test showed a significant difference between hearing losses (HL ≥ 25 dB) in the danger zone (SPL ≥ 85 dB) and the warning zone (85 > SPL ≥ 65 dB) (P = 0.005). Among the workers, 50% of them were in the danger zone and 8.8% of those who were in warning zone had varying degrees of hearing losses. Conclusions: GIS can play an important role in better noise and hearing loss screening through providing a set of facilities such as: converting point data to area ones, possibility of classification in different domains of prepared area data, generation of reports on map, graphic, and table, etc.