Have you ever noticed the “Beware of Sharks” sign when you’re at the ocean? It’s not hard to realize that you shouldn’t dismiss a caution like that. You might even think twice about swimming at all with a sign like that (if the warning is written in big red letters that’s particularly true). But people usually don’t pay attention to warnings about their hearing in the same way for some reason.
Current studies have found that millions of individuals neglect warning signs regarding their hearing (there’s no doubt that this is a global concern, though these studies were specifically done in the United Kingdom). Part of the challenge is awareness. To be afraid of sharks is rather intuitive. But being scared of loud noise? And the real question is, what volume level is too loud?
Loud And Dangerous Sound is Everywhere Around us
It’s not only the machine shop floor or rock concert that are dangerous to your ears (although both of those situations are, indeed, hazardous to your hearing). There are potential risks with many common sounds. That’s because it’s not only the volume of a sound that is dangerous; it’s also how long you’re exposed. Your hearing can be harmed with even low level noises like dense city traffic if you experience it for more than two hours at a time.
keep reading to find out when sound gets too loud:
- 30 dB: This is the volume level you would find in everyday conversation. At this level, there won’t be any limit to how long you can confidently be exposed.
- 80 – 85 dB: This is the volume of heavy traffic, lawn equipment, or an air conditioner. After about two hours this level of sound becomes damaging.
- 90 – 95 dB: Think of how loud a motorcycle is. This amount of exposure becomes harmful in as little as 50 minutes of exposure.
- 100 dB: An oncoming subway train or a mid-sized sporting event are at this sound level (depending on the city, of course). 15 minutes of exposure will be enough to be unsafe at this sound level.
- 110 dB: Have you ever cranked your Spotify music up to max volume? On most smartphones, that’s right around this volume. 5 minutes will be enough to be unsafe at this level.
- 120 dB and over: Any sound over 120 dB (think loud rock concerts or exceptionally large sporting events) can result in immediate damage and pain in your ears.
What Does 85 dB Sound Like?
In general, you’re in the danger zone when you’re experiencing any sound 85 dB or higher. But it can be difficult to recognize how loud 85 dB is and that’s the issue. It’s not tangible in the way that a shark is tangible.
And hearing warnings frequently go ignored because of this particularly when the sound environment isn’t loud enough to cause pain. There are a couple of possible solutions to this:
- Sufficient training and signage: This is true of the workplace, in particular. Training and signage can help reinforce the significant hazards of hearing loss (and the advantages of hearing protection). In addition, just how loud your workplace is, can be clarified by signage. Training can tell employees when hearing protection is necessary or recommended.
- Get an app: There isn’t an app that’s going to immediately safeguard your ears. But there are several free apps that can work as sound level monitors. Injury to your hearing can happen without you recognizing it because it’s hard to recognize just how loud 85 dB feels. Utilizing this app to keep track of noise levels, then, is the answer. This will help you develop a sense for when you’re going into the “danger zone” (Or, the app will merely alert you to when things get too loud).
If You’re in Doubt, Protect Yourself
No app and no signage will ever be flawless. So make the effort to safeguard your hearing if you have any doubt. Over a long enough period of time, noise damage will almost certainly create hearing issues. And nowadays, it’s never been easier to injure your ears (all you have to do is turn your headphone volume up a little too high).
You shouldn’t raise the volume past mid way, specifically if you’re listening all day. You require noise cancellation headphones if you are constantly turning up the volume to cover up background noise.
That’s the reason why it’s more important than ever to identify when loud becomes too loud. And in order to do this, you need to increase your own recognition and knowledge level. Safeguarding your ears, wearing earplugs, earmuffs, or limiting your exposure, is not that difficult. That starts with a little recognition of when you need to do it.
That should be easier nowadays, too. Particularly now that you understand what to look for.
Think you could have hearing loss? Schedule a test.