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READING PASSAGE      HearingProblems

Paragraph 1 (Q.1) The old adage extols the virtue ofsilence by claiming it is golden, yet experience tells us thatsilence is as hard to come by as the precious metal itself. Thebenefit of silence to the human ear is scientificallydemonstrable. Less superfluous noise; less impairment to thehearing. Yet this precious commodity is no longer valued. Noiseis ever present in modern life and is an accumulative experience.The ill effects of noise pollution are of two kinds: acute -exposure to an individual instance of a very loud noise, such asa gunshot or explosion; and chronic - the experience of too muchnoise over an extended period of time.

Paragraph 2 (Q.2) City and urban dwellers exist in anincreasingly noise-ridden environment, and it is now almostimpossible to escape exposure to high noise levels. Even if weexclude the more obvious sources of noise pollution such as jetplane engines, road works, power tools, loud music at danceparties and so on, it is clear that noise is a constant and oftenunwelcome companion. We have only to walk through a suburbanshopping mall or department store, or catch a bus or train to besubjected to noise levels that a few decades ago would have beenconsidered beyond human endurance. The popular practice of 'layering'sound, by adding a louder source of noise to that which alreadyexists in order to mask it, merely compounds the problem. Becauseof the accumulative nature of noise abuse, constant noise isworse than noisy periods interspersed with silence.

Paragraph 3 (Q.3) Our noise level acceptance thresholdis rising in step with the number of persons developing hearingproblems. Data available from a recent survey conducted by theAustralian Bureau of Statistics show that 7.4% of people over 14years of age have some discernible hearing problem. According tothe survey, 24.6% of the 7.4% of persons with affected hearinghave problems caused by subjection to a constant barrage of noise,either at work, in the everyday living environment, or as theresult of a particular choice of leisure activity. The problem ismost severe for males aged between 25 and 64 years of age, 9.1%of whom have a hearing disability, and for which the cause isconstant noise in 44.4% of cases.

Paragraph 4 (Q.4) Of current concern to acousticalengineers and psychologists at the National AcousticsLaboratories in Sydney, Australia, is the potential for damage tothe eardrum caused by the transmission of loud sound throughearphones placed directly into the ear canal. An almost universalfad among young people, the pocket-sized radio-cassette player (commonlyknown by the brand name 'Walkman') may be exposing its owner togreater than the maximum safe dosage of noise recommended forindustrial workers - 90 decibels* over a period of 8 hours. Thisdosage, called Dose 1, can be achieved much sooner by exposingthe ear to only slightly more than 90 decibels. Increases to thedecibel level logarithmically shorten the exposure time requiredto reach a given dose. For instance, to achieve Dose 1 in 4 hours,it is necessary to raise the decibel exposure level by a mere 3decibels.

Paragraph 5 (Q.5) One danger posed to young ears isthat the peak sound level from these radio-cassette players isoften far too great; at high volume it is all too easy to receiveDose 1 in a short period of time. Any further noise heard above90 decibels that day and the recipient is causing measurabledamage to his or her ears. Another danger is the likelihood of achange in the pain threshold of noise resulting in userscompensating by increasing the volume to levels way above what isconsidered safe. Finally, insertable earphones block the earcanal, thereby further increasing the noise level absorbed.

Paragraph 6 (Q.6) But perhaps the most alarmingpotential for danger caused by insertable earphones is the easewith which the listener can exceed the safe time length ofexposure to noise. The small earphones can be comfortably wornfor extended periods of time. What is more, there is the dangerof falling asleep with the earphones inserted, leading to anaccumulation of excess noise while unconscious.

Paragraph 7 (Q.7) Noise abuse soon leads to varyingdegrees of hearing loss. What may begin as an acute temporarycondition, in time becomes a chronic and irreversible disability.A common complaint is 'tinnitus', or a 'ringing in the ears'which fails to subside after the ears are subjected to a shortbut extreme dose of noise. It is an exhausting condition that canseriously threaten the composure of the sufferer who can bedriven to near madness. It is believed the composer Beethoven wasparticularly aggravated by this malady. At present, there islittle that can be done in the majority of cases, although thevictim might be able to obtain some temporary relief by using amasking device which blocks out the offending frequencies ofsound with other, less annoying frequencies.

Paragraph 8 (Example) Inevitably, though, years ofexcessive noise accumulation take their toll and partial orcomplete deafness results. If silence is the cure for ailing ears(or, at least, the best way to prevent further deterioration ofone's hearing), it is sobering to realise that it is also theunfortunate and permanent curse of a lifetime of noise abusecaused by ignoring the warnings.

* decibel: standard unit of sound measurement

Questions 1 - 7

Match the headings below with paragraphs 1 - 8 in the readingpassage entitled "Hearing Problems". There are moreheadings than required. The last paragraph heading has beencompleted for you as an example.

A. Research into earphones inserted in the ear canal

B. Listening through earphones for too long

C. The maximum noise level of the 'Walkman'

D. The benefit of silence

E. An environment of constant noise

F. Three problems caused by inserted earphones

G. The maximum safe noise dosage

H. The curse of silence (Example)


I. A cure for 'tinnitus'

J.Alarming statistical evidence

K.A chronic hearing loss impairment

L. The danger of falling asleep

Questions 8 - 16

Refer to the reading passage entitled "Hearing Problems"and answer the questions below with answer T (for True) or F (forFalse) in the box below. The first one has been done for you asan example.

Ex. Silence is not beneficial to the human ear


Q8. Silence is no longer a precious commodity

Q9. There are basically two kinds of noise pollution

Q10. The noise from a jet plane engine is not an obvious formof noise pollution

Q11. 'Layering' sound reduces the overall amount of soundby masking it

Q12. More males than females suffer the consequences ofconstant noise

Q13. To achieve Dose 1 in 4 hours, the ear needs to be exposedto 93 decibels for that period of time

Q14. The passage outlines four main dangers from usinginsertable earphones

Q15. Beethoven's ability to compose music was threatened byhis 'tinnitus'

Q16. Deafness is caused by not hearing the warnings aboutnoise abuse

Questions 17 - 20

Answer the questions below by using words and phrases takenfrom the reading passage entitled "Hearing Problems". Notethat there is a maximum of three words for eachanswer.

Q17. In Paragraph 1, what are the words of the old adage?

Q18. In Paragraph 1, less damage to the hearing is the resultof

Q19. How many sources are given for hearing problems caused byconstant noise?

Q20. What might a sufferer of 'tinnitus' get by blockingout certain sound frequencies?

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