Hearing Threshold Among Capsicum “Pepper” Grinders At Gwagwalada Area Council of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Folorunso DF, Dahilo EA Department of ENT/Head and Neck surgery, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, GwagwaladaAbuja,Nigeria.
Contact: DR.FOLORUNSO D.F. (FWACS) Consultant ENT-Head & Neck Surgeon
Department of ENT-Head & Neck Surgery University of Abuja Teaching Hospital,Gwagwalada FCT, Nigeria
*Corresponding author: Folorunso DF
Background: Noise is an undesirable sound, with potential of damaging the inner ear and remains a common
occupational hazard in our environment. A grinding machine is a milling device used in crushing food
substances by passing between two revolving abrasive surfaces, with rapidly rotating blades. The frictional
force between the spinning surfaces generate so much sound which could be as high as 110dB, capable of
causing hearing loss depending on the duration of exposure. Pepper (capsicumspp) grinding as a profession is
common in Gwagwalada area council, which is strategically located in FCT, Abuja. It has about 60% rural and
40% urban population. This makes this place a thriving zone for grinding business with heavy noise especially
within the markets.
Aim and Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine thehearing threshold among pepper grinders at
Gwagwalada area council of federal capital territory, Abuja, as well as to determine the prevalence of hearing
loss among them. It was also set to identify the intensity of noise produced by these machines and compare
years of exposure to the level of hearing loss.
Participants and Method:The study was a prospective cross sectional study conducted at Gwagwalada Area
Council of FCT in Gwagwalada. All consenting pepper grinders who operates their griding machine in the
markets(Gwagwalada, Paiko and Dobi), were recruited into the study group.The ambient noise levels at these
locations were measured using sound level meter. Following clinical assessment, diagnostic pure-tone
audiometry and tympanometry were done in all the participants to know the hearing threshold and to rule out
middle ear problems. Control included other people in the market, like yam sellers, meat sellers, people selling
provision, etc. who were exposed to the same environmental conditions in the market, apart from noise from
grinding machines. The data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20 and
result analyzed in descriptive charts and tables.
Results: One hundred and seventeen pepper grinders were recruited into the study, out of which 51 people were
excluded from the analysis on account of 49 of them with confounding factors(measles,mumps, and
meningitis),while the remaining 2 had middle ear pathology from tympanometry results. The age range was 17
to 55years, with mean age of 30.5yrs. Thirty seven (56.1%) male and twenty nine (43.9%) female pepper
grinders participated. Five (7.6%) had no formal education, twelve(18.2%) had primary education, thirty nine
(59.1%) had secondary education and ten (15.1%) had post-secondary education. Fifty four (81.7%) had
constantly worked in pepper grinding business for five years or less, three(5.2%) for 6-10 years, seven(10.4%)
for 11-15yrs, and two (2.6%) more than 15 years. The mean years spent in grinding business was 4.2 years.
Sixty four(97.0%) of them spent more than 8 hours in grinding business with a mean of 10.7hrs. The control
group was made up of 66 participants also, forty one (62.1%)males and twenty five(37.9%) females with age
range of 20-57yrs, and mean age for the control 36.5yrs. Three(4.6%) had no formal education, six(9.1%) had
primary education, twenty three(34.8%) had secondary education and thirty four (51.5%) had post-secondary
education. The average noise level were determined at different locations in all the markets where the study
was carried out (Gwagwalada,Paiko,and Dobi ) and all the locations were compared to WHO Guideline for
noise level in a commercial areas.All the fourteen of the pepper grinders with self reported history of hearing
loss had moderate to severe hearing loss. The two pepper grinders who worked below 8hours had normal
hearing threshold in both ears. All the pepper grinders did not use any form of hearing protection. Hearing
threshold among pepper grinders was significantly higher than their control with the prevalence of 61%
Conclusion: The number of hours spent per day, total number of years spent in the job and the intensity of noise
generated by the grinding machines were the predictors of hearing loss among pepper grinders. Analysis
indicated that grinding in an enclosed compartment might be a contributory factor to early development of Hearing Threshold Among Capsicum “Pepper” Grinders At Gwagwalada Area Council…
NIHL and further study on this is necessary. None of the pepper grinders used ear plug or any other sound
proof device and hence the need for the establishment of a hearing conservative programme within this industry.
Key Words: Hearing threshold, noise; Grinding machine, professional pepper grinders.