Background. Noise has different auditory and non-auditory effects on human. In noisy environments, noise as a non-specific stressor can activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA, cor- tisol). The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of chronic exposure to noise on salivary cortisol on industrial workers.
Methods. This cross-sectional study had a case/control design. 136 male workers (68 workers were exposed to chronic industrial noise, and 68 other workers were exposed to background noise) voluntarily enrolled in the study. The equivalent noise level was measured at workstations and salivary cortisol for both case and control groups was measured at the beginning (6 AM) and also at the end of work shift (4 PM). The amount of change in the average of the values of the two groups were compared with each other.
Results. The measured Leq8h (equivalent continuous sound level) in case and control groups were 87.43 dB-A and 67.6 dB-A, respectively. Comparison of salivary cortisol levels change in groups shows a significant differences in control groups for salivary cortisol in the morning and in the evening samples (p < 0.05); but not in the case group (p = 0.052). Also, comparison of salivary cortisol levels changes with noise exposure experience in the case subgroups revealed no significant difference (p > 0.05).
Conclusion. This study showed that chronic exposure to industrial noise can lead to a change in pattern of salivary cortisol secretion especially in the evening (at the end of the work shift), in a way that instead of its normal decrease, an increase happened.
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