What can you do?
Hearing loss is a gradual and normal part of the aging process. However, excessive noise is still the primary cause. Permanent hearing loss can occur almost instantly with unprotected exposure to certain sounds.
To protect yourself from noise:
- If the sound level at work exceeds 85 dB, reduce the noise level or wear hearing protection.
- Lower the volume of your television, stereo and iPod. Take special care if you use headphones or earbuds.
- Be careful not to turn up your car stereo volume too loudly to compensate for noise from the engine or the wind.
- Wear custom noise filters or solid earplugs if you go to rock concerts or nightclubs, and don't stand near loud speakers.
- Wear noise-cancelling headphones or solid earplugs if you use noisy equipment such as drills, lawnmowers, etc.
To avoid damage from foreign objects:
- Don't use cotton swabs to clean your ears. Doing so may push wax down onto your eardrum and can increase the production of wax and/or damage the eardrum.
- Avoid washing with unclean water to prevent ear infections.
What are decibels?
Decibels (dB) measure the intensity of sound: from 0 dB, which is the faintest sound the human ear can detect, to the noise of a rocket during launch, which can exceed 180 dB.
Experts typically consider exposure to more than 85 dB to be dangerous, which means things like motorcycles, headphones and lawnmowers have potential to lead to permanent hearing loss.
Are you at risk?
If you're exposed to sounds above 85 dB, you may be putting your hearing at risk.
- 140 dB
- Gunshot, Jet Engine at Takeoff Immediate danger to hearing
- 125 dB
- Air Raid Siren, Firecracker Pain threshold
- 120 dB
- Rock Concert, Sandblasting Risk of hearing damage in 7 minutes
- 115 dB
- Baby's Cry, Jet Ski Risk of hearing damage in 15 minutes
- 110 dB
- Snowmobile in Driver's Seat Risk of hearing damage in 30 minutes
- 105 dB
- Jackhammer, Helicopter Risk of hearing damage in 1 hour
- 100 dB
- Chain Saw, Stereo Headphones Risk of hearing damage in 2 hours
- 95 dB
- Motorcycle, Power Saw Risk of hearing damage in 4 hours
- 90 dB
- Lawnmower, Truck Traffic Risk of hearing damage in 8 hours
- 85 dB
- Beginning of OSHA Regulations
- 70 dB
- Busy traffic, Vacuum Cleaner
- 60 dB
- Conversation, Dishwasher
- 40 dB
- Quiet Room