This article is sourced and excerpted from the Boulder County Business Report. It was written by Lyla D. Hamilton.

BOULDER – Healthy hearing is among the casualties of war.
Fifteen percent of the American veterans who began accepting disability compensation in fiscal 2008 had service-connected tinnitus (noises in the ear) or hearing loss. The tab for these taxpayer-funded benefits exceeds a billion dollars annually.
Boulder-based Environmental Acoustical Research Inc. offers a $25 solution: the HearPlugz-DF. This new hearing protection device features dual acoustical filters to suppress noise. While protecting their hearing, combatants can hear others speak and even communicate via two-way radio or cell phone.
In 2009, Occupational Health & Safety magazine named the HearPlugz-DF the new product of the year in the hearing protection category.
"Those serving in the military aren’t wearing the hearing protection that’s provided because it doesn’t fit well, and it keeps them from hearing voices or other warning sounds," said Garry Gordon, EAR’s chief executive.
"When an attack occurs," he noted, "there’s no time to put on hearing protection."
The HearPlugz-DF’s patent-pending filtering system adjusts to the level of noise in the environment. It protects the wearer from both the continuous noise of a helicopter or otherengine and impact noise such as gunfire or the detonation of an improvised explosive device, or IED.
According to the American Tinnitus Association, an Apache helicopter pilot experiences noise at 104 decibels. Eight hours of unprotected exposure to that volume of noise can cause serious hearing impairment. Detonation of an IED, with noise levels at 140 decibels or more, can rupture an eardrum or cause permanent tinnitus.
Field-tested in Afghanistan, the HearPlugz-DF earned a thumbs-up rating from American troops. "Data presented a year ago at the American Academy of Audiology looked good," Gordon said. "But we needed to know whether ‘Mikey’ liked it."
To reach the military market, EAR is negotiating contracts with the General Services Administration, the federal government’s centralized procurement system.
To read the entire article, click here.

Gordon anticipates sales of 1 million to 2 million HearPlugz-DF sets in the first year, moving quickly to five or 10 times that annually.
HearPlugz-DF units, which come in three sizes and various colors, are available at EAR’s Web site and through 2,500 distribution points that include audiologists, industrial medicine practitioners, and industrial safety experts.
EAR, incorporated in 1994, has been in Boulder for almost four decades. Its recent expansion included modest hiring and took the company’s footprint to more than 4,000 square feet. The local operation houses corporate functions and serves as a distribution point. Laboratories in Pennsylvania and Florida manufacture the hearing protection products.

[Source: Boulder County Business Report]