You ever go to the beach and noticed one of those “Beware of Shark” warnings? It’s not hard to realize that you shouldn’t disregard a warning like that. You may even rethink swimming at all with a sign like that (if the sign is written in big red letters that’s particularly true). Inexplicably, though, it’s difficult for people to listen to warnings about their hearing in the same way.
Current research has found that millions of people disregard warning signs when it comes to their hearing (there’s little doubt that this is a global problem, though this research was specifically conducted in the UK). Awareness is a huge part of the problem. It’s rather intuitive to be scared of sharks. But the majority of individuals don’t have an overt fear of loud sounds. And how do you recognize how loud is too loud?
We’re Surrounded by Dangerously Loud Sounds
It isn’t just the machine shop floor or rock concert that present dangers to your ears (not to minimize the hearing risks of these situations). There are potential dangers with many every-day sounds. That’s because exposure time is as hazardous as the volume. Even low-level noises, such as dense city traffic, can be harmful to your hearing when experienced for more than a couple of hours.
keep reading to find out when sound becomes too loud:
- 30 dB: Everyday conversation would be at this volume level. At this level, there won’t be a limit to how long you can confidently be exposed.
- 80 – 85 dB: An air conditioner, dense traffic, and a lawnmower are at this level of sound. This level of sound will usually become harmful after two hours of exposure.
- 90 – 95 dB: A motorcycle is a practical illustration of this sound level. 50 minutes is enough to be harmful at this level of sound.
- 100 dB: This is the level of sound you may experience from a mid-size sports event or an oncoming subway train (depending on the city, of course). This volume can become dangerous after 15 minutes of exposure.
- 110 dB: Have you ever cranked your Spotify music up to max volume? On most smartphones, that’s about this volume. This amount of exposure becomes dangerous after only 5 minutes of exposure.
- 120 dB and over: Any sound over 120 dB (think loud rock show or exceptionally large sporting events) can bring about instant damage and pain in your ears.
What Does 85 Decibels Sound Like?
Generally speaking, you’re in the danger zone when you’re experiencing any sound 85 dB or louder. The problem is that it isn’t always clear just how loud 85 dB is. A shark is a tangible thing but sound isn’t so tangible.
And hearing cautions commonly get neglected for this reason particularly when the sound environment isn’t loud enough to cause pain. Here are a couple of potential solutions:
- Suitable signage and training: This is true of workspaces, in particular. The significant hazards of hearing loss can be reinforced by training and sufficient signage (and the advantages of hearing protection). Also, just how noisy your workspace is, can be made clear by signage. Training can help employees know when hearing protection is required or suggested.
- Get an app: Your hearing can’t be immediately safeguarded with an app. But there are a number of free apps that can work as sound level monitors. Injury to your ears can happen without you recognizing it because it’s tough to recognize just how loud 85 dB feels. The answer, then, is to have this app open and track the sound levels around you. Utilizing this approach will make it more instinctive to identify when you are moving into the “danger zone”. (Or, the app will simply alert you to when things get too loud).
If You’re in Doubt, Protect Yourself
Signage and apps aren’t a foolproof solution. So make the effort to safeguard your hearing if you have any doubt. Over a long enough period of time, noise damage will almost definitely create hearing issues. And these days, it’s never been easier to harm your ears (all you have to do is turn your earpods up a little too high).
You shouldn’t increase the volume past half way, specifically if you’re listening all day. If you keep turning it up to hear your music over background noise you should find different headphones that can block out noise.
That’s why it’s more essential than ever to identify when the volume becomes too loud. And to do this, you need to increase your own awareness and knowledge level. It’s not difficult to limit your exposure or at least use hearing protection. That begins with a little recognition of when you should do it.
Nowadays that should also be easier. That’s even more relevant now that you have some insight.
Think you could have hearing loss? Make an appointment.