Groups of chinchillas were given a series of noise exposures of approximately equal energy ranging from 22 minutes at 120 dB SPL to 150 days at 82 dB. For all exposures involving levels of 112 dB or less, the same average permanent hearing losses (15–20 dB) and degree of outer hair cell destruction (8–10%) resulted, thus confirming the validity of the total energy principle for assessing the hazard associated with single continuous exposures at moderate levels. The 22-minute, 120-dB exposure, however, produced a 60-dB hearing loss and massive hair cell destruction (70–80%), indicating that some critical level had been exceeded, thus producing acoustic trauma. Further histological study suggests that the massive destruction is a result of breaks in the organ of Corti, produced by severe mechanical stress, that permit the mixture of endolymph with perilymph, thus creating a hostile environment for the hair cells.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
From the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. This research was supported by NINCDS grants NS 12125 and NS 04615. 11 1981 90 6 584 590 © 1981 SAGE Publications 1981 SAGE Publications