Have you ever noticed the “Beware of Sharks” sign when you’re at the ocean? It’s not really a warning you disregard. A sign like that (specifically if written in large, red letters) may even make you reconsider your swim altogether. For some reason, though, it’s difficult for people to heed warnings concerning their hearing in the same way.
Current research has found that millions of individuals ignore warning signs regarding their hearing (there’s no doubt that this is a global problem, though these studies were specifically conducted in the UK). Part of the issue is awareness. To be afraid of sharks is rather intuitive. But being scared of loud noise? And how do you recognize how loud is too loud?
We’re Surrounded by Dangerously Loud Sounds
Your ears are not just in peril at a rock concert or on the floor of a machine shop (although both of those situations are, without a doubt, hazardous to your hearing). Many common sounds can be hazardous. That’s because the duration of sound is as hazardous as the volume. Even lower-level noises, such as dense city traffic, can be dangerous to your hearing when experienced for more than a couple of hours.
keep reading to find out when sound becomes too loud:
- 30 dB: Normal conversation would be at this volume level. At this volume, there won’t be a limit to how long you can confidently be exposed.
- 80 – 85 dB: An air conditioner, heavy traffic, and lawn equipment are at this level of sound. This volume will normally become damaging after two hours of exposure.
- 90 – 95 dB: Think of how loud a motorcycle is. 50 minutes is enough to be harmful at this level of sound.
- 100 dB: This is the amount of sound you might experience from a mid-size sporting event or an approaching subway train (of course, this depends on the city). This volume can get hazardous after 15 minutes of exposure.
- 110 dB: Have you ever turned your Spotify music up to max volume? That’s normally around this sound level on most smartphones. 5 minutes will be enough to be harmful at this level.
- 120 dB and over: Anything over 120 dB (think loud rock show or very large sports events) can produce immediate injury and pain in your ears.
How Loud is 85 dB?
In general, you’re hearing is in danger when you’re dealing with any sound 85 dB or louder. But it can be difficult to know how loud 85 dB is and that’s the difficulty. It’s not tangible the way that a shark is tangible.
And hearing warnings frequently go ignored for this reason specifically when the sound environment isn’t loud enough to cause pain. Here are a couple of potential solutions:
- Suitable signage and training: This refers to workspaces, in particular. Signage and training can help reinforce the significant hazards of hearing loss (and the benefits of protecting your hearing). In addition, just how loud your workspace is, can be made clear by signage. Training can help employees know when hearing protection is necessary or recommended.
- Get an app: Your hearing can’t be directly safeguarded with an app. But there are several sound level metering apps. Injury to your hearing can occur without you recognizing it because it’s tough to know just how loud 85 dB feels. Utilizing this app to keep track of sound levels, then, is the solution. Utilizing this strategy will make it more instinctual to recognize when you are moving into the “danger zone”. (Or, the app will merely tell you when things get too noisy).
When in Doubt: Protect
Signage and apps aren’t a foolproof solution. So take the time to safeguard your hearing if you have any doubt. Over a long enough duration, noise damage will almost definitely create hearing issues. And these days, it’s never been easier to damage your ears (it’s a straight forward matter of listening to your music too loudly).
You shouldn’t increase the volume past half way, especially if you’re listening all day. You need noise cancellation headphones if you are constantly cranking up the volume to block out background sound.
That’s the reason why it’s more significant than ever to acknowledge when the volume becomes too loud. Increasing your own understanding and awareness is the key if you want to do that. Safeguarding your ears, wearing ear protection, or limiting your exposure, is easy enough. That starts with a little recognition of when you should do it.
These days that should also be easier. Especially now that you understand what to be aware of.
Think you might have hearing loss? Schedule an exam.