EU invests in new project on hearing–related public health

A new €2 million pan-European project on “Metrology for modern hearing assessment and protecting public health from emerging noise sources” has just started. With its focus on applying measurement science, i. e. metrology, to different facets of hearing assessment and conservation, it has become known as EARS.

The overall objective of this project is to develop measurement science solutions that bring improvements in two key areas; in the assessment of hearing and subsequent rehabilitation, especially in audiometry for children; and in understanding the risks to hearing conservation and public health posed by emerging noise sources with infrasound or ultrasound content, in both at the workplace and in the public environment.

The project will address these challenges by drawing together leading expertise in acoustics, audiology, ultrasonics, neuroimaging and psychology. It has 12 partners from 6 EU countries, the consortium including national metrology institutes, academia, teaching hospitals and commercial organisations.

The project is funded by the European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR), an integral part of Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.  EMPIR is a main research platform  for European research on metrology. It focusses on addressing the EU's Grand Challenges in Health, Energy, Environment and Industry, and to progress fundamental measurement science.

The project focuses at two main issues of hearing assessment and conservation. First, the further development of measurement methodology ensures accuracy, reliability and quality of hearing tests and assessment for improved diagnosis and quality of life. Second, the issue of human exposure to airborne ultrasound and infrasound has attracted particular attention recently and the project will improve the understanding of human response and perception of these emerging sound sources increasingly occurring at work places and in the public. The new project is the second phase of the EARS programme. Phase 1 ran from May 2012 to April 2015, and laid the foundations for the work to now be pursued. This phase runs from May 2016 to April 2019.

This project admits and acknowledges the importance of hearing conservation and the related human factors which become more prominent in a European society with increasing age and higher requirements and claims in speech communication and noise environmental quality.

Project Partners

- Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, PTB, Germany (project co-ordinator)
- Dansk Fundamental Metrologi, DFM, Denmark
- Eidgenössisches Institut für Metrologie METAS, Switzerland
- National Physical Laboratory, NPL, UK
- Turkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Arastirma Kurumu, TUBITAK, Turkey
- Brüel & Kjaer Sound & Vibration Measurement, Denmark
- Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung, Germany
- University College London, EAR Institute, UK
- Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany
- Univerza v Ljubljani, Slovenia
- Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Germany
- University of Southampton, Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, UK

Related links

EARS: Opens external link in new windowhttp://www.ears-project.eu/emrp/ears.html
EMPIR: Opens external link in new windowhttp://www.euramet.org/index.php?id=research-empir
HEFUA: Opens external link in new windowhttp://www.southampton.ac.uk/populationhealth/partners/HEFUA.page