Harmful Noise Levels
The effects of noise on hearing vary among people. Some people's ears are more sensitive to loud sounds, especially at certain frequencies. (Frequency means how low or high a tone is.) But any sound that is loud enough and lasts long enough can damage hearing and lead to hearing loss.
A sound's loudness is measured in decibels (dB). Normal conversation is about 60 dB, a lawn mower is about 90 dB, and a loud rock concert is about 120 dB. In general, sounds above 85 are harmful, depending on how long and how often you are exposed to them and whether you wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
Following is a table of the decibel level of a number of sounds.
As loudness increases, the amount of time you can hear the sound before damage occurs decreases. Hearing protectors reduce the loudness of sound reaching the ears, making it possible to listen to louder sounds for a longer time.
Preventing damage to your hearing
An easy way to become aware of potentially harmful noise is to pay attention to warning signs that a sound might be damaging to your hearing. A sound may be harmful if:
Most cases of noise-induced hearing loss are caused by repeated exposure to moderate levels of noise over many years, not by a few cases of very loud noise. Wearing hearing protectors can help prevent damage from both moderate and loud noise.
If your workplace has harmful noise levels, plan ahead and wear hearing protection. People who may be regularly exposed to harmful noise because of their jobs include:
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