Have you ever heard the expression “So loud I can’t hear myself think”? That idiom sums up more and more of the world today, where significant and harmful noise pollution too often goes unchecked. Noise pollution frequently reaches levels that can have a permanent effect on our hearing and leaves us distracted and unrested.
Because many of us live in noisy areas, dangerous levels of sound can go unnoticed. While workers organizations like OSHA can regulate noise precautions at workplaces and jobsites, protecting a general population from widespread noise pollution is much more daunting. Know how to recognize harmful noise levels and what you can do to protect yourself and others.
Be Sound Smart
When it comes to protecting your hearing, it’s important to recognize how loud is too loud, and when sound levels become dangerous to your hearing health. According to OSHA’s workplace regulations, sounds at a volume of 85 decibels are the starting threshold of harmful noise. At an 85 decibel level, noises can permanently harm our hearing if we have over 8 hours of continual exposure and that time ceiling gets exponentially shorter the louder the sound.
Rock concerts and power tools frequently project around 105 decibels of sound which becomes dangerous to human hearing after only a few minutes. Extremely loud noises like gun shots, fireworks and jet engines create sound levels of over 120 decibels which are unsafe for any duration of time and cause physical pain in the ear in addition to lasting damage.
In the realm of noise pollution, there are some factors that are near certain to increase environmental noise in an area. While airports are often located away from the heart of a city, the frequency of landings and take offs contributes to the noise pollution of homes and businesses near to runways and flight paths. Nearby railways, commuter lines and subway systems can be heavy noise polluters. If you have ever walked over a highway overpass you surely recognize that freeways and busy roads can also generate a great deal of noise at an excessive volume.
In addition to transportation routes, there are many other noise sources to be wary of. Construction sites, often with their simultaneous use of power tools and heavy equipment create a hearing hazard to passers by and those who live and work nearby. Facilities and factories that utilize industrial machinery are very likely to be contributing loud noise to their area. Locations near to police and fire departments or close to hospitals often endure an above-average exposure to loud sirens.
How Noisy Is Your Life?
Life is noisy, and that’s not great for our hearing. Fortunately, these days there are easy to use tools that can help us keep track of how much noise we experience, as well as how loud specific sounds are. Smart phone decibel monitors, like Decibel X, can be used to keep tabs on environmental noise in our surroundings. If you are concerned about a noises you are exposed to in your own home, a smart phone decibel monitor can also help you tract the noise generated by specific tools and appliances from table saws to blow dryers.
Protect Your Hearing
Everyday exposure to noise pollution can result in permanent hearing loss. It’s important to protect yourself and push for noise pollution regulation to protect hearing in your community. Knowledge is power, so take the time to monitor what your everyday noise exposure is like. Once you have a sense of the harmful sound levels in your life, you’ll be better able to know how to protect your hearing, as well as ways to reduce the noise you generate around your home.
If the area where you work or live has a noise pollution problem, you may want to organize with your neighbors to fight for better noise pollution regulation. This can include petitioning for sound barriers, quiet hours and the redistribution of traffic and noise. Organizing also helps raise awareness of the noise problem in your community and its implications for hearing health.
Hearing Health at Home – Mobile Hearing Services
If you have a concern about your hearing, let help come to you. Hearing Health at Home brings a hearing services to you, as well as the option to visit us at our convenient location in downtown Oxford, North Carolina.