Common Noise Levels and Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Many people do not realize that common everyday sounds can be damaging to our hearing. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) occurs when hearing is damaged by exposure to loud sounds. NIHL depends on how loud and how long someone is exposed to a noise. Some common noise levels include:

The higher the dB level, the louder the noise and the greater potential for damage to hearing. If you are interested in finding out how loud a specific noise is, there are many apps on a smartphone that can be used to measure the approximate level of sound in your environment.

Anything over 85 dB has the potential to damage our hearing. The amount of time you can safely be exposed to a certain level of sound is determined by the jurisdiction. These jurisdictions determine workplace safety laws which impose limits on how long a worker can be in a given environment. In Ontario, you can safely be exposed to 85 dB of sound for only 8 hours. Further exposure can lead to damage to hearing. For every 3 dB above 85 dB, the amount of time you can safely be exposed to a noise is cut in half. See below for more details:

Noise level (dB)

Maximum exposure daily (hours)

85

8

88

4

91

2

94

1

97

0.5

100

0.25


Noise levels above 100 dB have the potential to cause hearing loss almost instantly. For this reason, it is extremely important to protect our ears. By wearing hearing protection, the level of noise can be decreased to a safe level thus reducing the risk of NIHL. Most over-the-counter foam plugs reduce sound by less than 10 dB. Depending on the situation, this is generally not enough attenuation to protect the ears from noise exposure. Custom noise plugs and over-the-ear muffs can provide a higher level of hearing protection. These can block up to 30 dB of sound depending on the strength of the product.

At iDenture & Hearing, we provide options for many different types of custom hearing protection. For more information on hearing protection, contact us today!

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