Harmful decibels are the silent, and most harmful, cause of hearing loss in the US and worldwide. Sounds louder than 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing damage if the exposure is long enough. The louder the noise, the faster the damage can occur following exposure. Below, we look at some of the normal everyday activities that cause such silent hearing loss – activities that require ear protection such as ear plugs and ear muffs.
- Firing a gun
Gun shots are pretty loud. They produce about 140 decibels of harmful noise upon firing. This is way above the healthy decibel levels. 140 decibels of noise can cause permanent noise damage instantly. And yet, little ear protection is observed when using guns. The only exception is in the gun range where ear muffs are provided. However, police and military soldiers do not use any ear protection. Even hunters and backyard gun users do not.
- Mowing the lawn
A lot of people mow their lawns every other week. However, what most fail to realize is that a lawn mower produces harmful decibel noise. On average, a lawn mower produces 90 decibels of noise. This can start to cause permanent damage within a period as short as 2 hours. Of course, you may not work on your lawn for that long. But still, it is harmful to your hearing. Laborers who offer regular lawn mowing services are at higher risk. Leaf blowers and snow blowers are even worse as they produce about 105 decibels of noise.
- Riding a loud motorbike
Loud motorbikes are all the rage among bikers and ‘outlaw’ riders. The large engines and the huge exhausts can produce as much as 125 decibels of noise. This is a lot of noise for the rider to be exposed to for long. Such levels of harmful decibels can start to cause permanent hearing damage in just minutes. Even pedestrians or motorists near such loud bikes can experience some degree of hearing loss if exposed to the noise for long.
- Using electric tools
Some electric tools are also very loud – louder than most users may care to think. A good example is electric saws, drills, sanders, etc. These machines, often used in construction or inside the garage, can produce as much as 100-115 decibels of harmful sound. Such levels of sound can cause permanent hearing damage in just a matter of minutes. And considering that these pieces of equipment are used for hours on end, it is safe to say that many people are harming themselves in this manner.
- Fireworks celebrations
And then there are fireworks. These are quite loud even when exploded meters above ground. On average, fireworks produce about 150 decibels of sound. This is louder than a shotgun or a loud motorbike. Needless to say, therefore, anyone planning to attend a fireworks event should wear ear protection or at least cover their ears using their hands to avoid permanent damage which can occur instantly.
For more information on how loud noises can affect your hearing, check out the charts provided here and here.
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