PeltorHearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) are the two most common service-related disabilities, according to the Department of Defense’s Hearing Center of Excellence (HCE). To give troops and their commanders more options for protecting hearing while maintaining a degree of environmental hearing, 3M is introducing the Peltor Tactical Earplug for military and law enforcement applications. The device will debut at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) exposition, Oct. 13 to 15 in Washington, D.C. at 3M Booth 7329. It is also available now for U.S. Army Tactical Communications and Protective Systems (TCAPS) applications and law enforcement.

The 3M Peltor Tactical Earplug is an in-ear digital earplug designed to help protect users’ hearing from high levels of steady state and impulse noises. At the same time, the device has sound-amplification capabilities for situational hearing and can help troops better hear mission-critical verbal communications in quiet environments. Existing devices, such as the 3M Peltor ComTac III Tactical Communications Headset, provide similar capabilities in an over-the-ear design. However, the availability of an in-ear device provides more options to satisfy troops’ personal preferences, and accommodate a greater range of mission demands and headborne equipment.

“Hearing loss affects job performance and situational awareness, and can force otherwise fully capable warfighters off the battlefield,” said Eric Fallon, technical service specialist in hearing conservation for 3M and a retired Army audiologist. “Even worse, hearing loss can affect troops for the rest of their lives – forcing them to miss out on everything from conversations with friends to the sound of their child’s laugh. Making a greater range of hearing protection options available to our troops can help tackle this problem, and that’s why we introduced the Peltor Tactical Earplug.”

The Peltor Tactical Earplug is ruggedized for military and tactical environments, and helps protect hearing against sustained noises, such as loud generators and vehicle engines, and impulse noises, such as gunfire and blasts. Sound amplification settings can be activated by using a single button. Rechargeable batteries provide up to 16 hours of continuous operation.

About 1.5 million veterans are afflicted with a service-related hearing impairment, according to the HCE. Additionally, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported the federal government spends as much as $1 billion annually on veterans’ hearing-related conditions. This is in addition to the time and resource investments put into training troops and special operations forces that are then lost when a hearing impairment forces them off the battlefield.

“The Peltor Tactical Earplug does more than help protect a warfighter’s hearing on the battlefield,” Fallon said. “It can also give them greater awareness in a dangerous situation and make them more effective. And it can help them enjoy their lives when they return home to their friends and families.”

3M offers a comprehensive, diverse portfolio of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) solutions providing hearing protection, protective communications and tactical safety equipment, respiratory protection, fall protection, reflective materials for high-visibility apparel, protective clothing, protective eyewear, head and face protection, welding helmets, and other adjacent products and solutions, such as detection and monitoring equipment.