We are often asked "how loud does a sound need to be before it’s harmful to hearing?" "How do you know how loud a sound is?"
These are great questions. People are often uncertain about how loud is too loud. “Too loud” is a combination of the volume of the sound and how long one is exposed to the sound. The louder a sound is, the shorter the permissible duration. Generally 85 decibel (decibel (dB) is a measure of sound loudness) over an 8 hour exposure is considered acceptable. For every three dB increase the acceptable time is cut in half. For example if the volume is 88 dB, it is safe for 4 hours, 91 dB is safe for 2 hours.
Here is a guide to help you determine the volume of some common sounds.
- 60 dB—Normal conversations or dishwasher
- 80 dB—Alarm clock
- 90 dB—Hair dryers, blenders, and lawnmower
- 100 dB—MP3 players at full volume
- 110 dB—Concerts, car racing, and sporting events
- 120 dB—Jet planes at take off
- 130 dB—Ambulances and fire engine sirens
- 140 dB—Gun shots, fireworks, and custom car stereos at full volume
One dangerous trend we see among you people is using a music player to cover up the sound of the lawn mower. When you do the calculations, listening to 100 dB is safe for only 15 minutes.
Here a few good “rules of thumb”. You know the noise is too loud if; you have to shout over the background noise to be heard, if the volume actually causes pain, if the noise makes your ears ring or if you have decreased or muffled hearing after being exposed to the sound. There are three ways to protect your hearing; use earplugs or muffs, move away from the source of the sound or turn the volume down when using a music player.
When someone is exposed to loud sounds it is important to have regular hearing evaluations. If you or a loved one is exposed to loud sound, have a baseline hearing evaluation. Why wait? Call now for an appointment.
Life Sounds Great! Enjoy Every Moment!
Paula Webster, MA
Advanced Audiology Concepts
8897 Mentor Ave
Mentor, Ohio 44060