When someone mentions the word "pollutant", your first thought would probably be of some airborne particles or contaminated groundwater, and you'd be right to think of those. But another - far more common - pollutant surrounds each of us on a daily basis: noise.

There is no escaping noise. It is quite literally all around us, at all times. You may not think that music, for example, is noise pollution; to your hearing mechanism a live rock concert or continued exposure to an MP3 player's ear buds at unsafe levels may however be more damaging than passing a jackhammer at close range on the way to work. Both sudden very loud noises and sustained high decibel levels have the potential to put your hearing at risk, regardless of your age.

Unfortunately, most of us take our hearing for granted, and don't usually pay any attention to it until we notice that we seem to have more difficulty hearing certain sounds or people than we used to. By that time, it's usually too late to "prevent" hearing loss; the best one can do then is to minimize the impact by looking for technological solutions such as hearing aids and listening devices. If that doesn't sound appealing to you, then this information may help you make some decisions to prevent it from happening, or at the very least minimizing the impact it will have on your life.

We have compiled a short list of links to information about noise and hearing loss prevention below:

The Better Hearing Institute:

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD):

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA):

This information is provided by the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.