Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Science and Management

Reader 1

Anna Wenzel

Reader 2

Sarah Gilman

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This thesis explores the increasingly prevalent issue of hearing impairments in the context of modern environmental factors and lifestyle choices. The intricate workings of the human auditory system are first examined, emphasizing its complexity and sensitivity. The study delves into the categories of hearing impairments - conductive and sensorineural - highlighting their distinct characteristics, causes, and impacts on individuals' lives. A key focus of the research is the influence of environmental factors, particularly the escalating problem of noise pollution in urban and industrial settings. Studies show that prolonged exposure to high decibel levels significantly deteriorates hearing acuity. Other environmental risks, like air pollution and chemical exposures, are also examined for their auditory impacts. The thesis then transitions to lifestyle choices affecting auditory health, such as the widespread use of personal audio devices and exposure to social and recreational noise. The ubiquity of headphones and the popularity of loud entertainment venues among the youth pose significant risks for noise-induced hearing loss. Furthermore, the effects of certain medications and chemicals with ototoxic properties are explored. A comparative analysis reveals a marked increase in hearing impairments over recent decades, attributed to factors such as industrialization, urbanization, and technological advances. The study concludes with a call for heightened public awareness and policy interventions to mitigate these risks. The urgent need for preventive measures and further research into solutions is underscored to preserve auditory health in the face of modern challenges.