ASA 127th Meeting M.I.T. 1994 June 6-10

3pNS1. A history of hearing protection in the United States.

C. T. Moritz

R. D. Bruce

Collaboration in Sci. and Technol., Inc., 15835 Park Ten Pl., Ste. 105, Houston, TX 77084-5131

During the late 1800s it was known that exposure to high sound levels could lead to permanent hearing loss. Although several U.S. patents were awarded for hearing protective devices in the 1800s, hearing protectors were not generally available until the 1920s. These devices were marketed to help people cope with the high sound levels of the ``big city,'' not to protect against hearing loss. It was not until World War II that hearing-protective devices became generally available for industrial workers. This paper will present an overview of the major developments in hearing protection in the United States from the 1920s to the present and discuss the forces behind their development. Emphasis will be placed on the availability of different types of hearing-protective products to industrial workers and consumers.