Monster Truck Jam is on! How much noise can you handle?
You grab your tickets, pack up the lunch and snacks, hustle the kids out the door and head out to the Monster Truck Jam, but wait… what’s missing? What about packing the hearing protection?
Entering an extremely loud noise environment can not only wreck your whole day (kids covering their ears, crying and wanting to escape the noise and begging to leave early) but also negatively impact anyone’s (yours included) hearing.
The WHO (World Health Organization) states on their website that “half o
f all cases of hearing loss are avoidable through primary prevention”. They go on to state that acquired causes that may lead to hearing loss at any age can be from “excessive noise, including occupational noise such as that from machinery and explosions, and recreational noise such as that from personal audio devices, concerts, nightclubs, bars and sporting events”.
So how much noise is too much noise and how long an exposure can be too much exposure?
How can we judge for ourselves when the noise level and length of exposure could be damaging to our hearing? Studies tell us that noise levels higher than 85dBA (in a measurement unit called the A-weighted decibel (dBA)), have been shown to be a cause for concern of noise induced hearing loss.
- Exposure to high levels of noise over 120dBA can cause immediate and permanent hearing loss. Noises such as a loud clap of thunder or a siren at 120dBA or a loud, close gunshot or firecracker at 140-190 dBA.
- Being exposed to noise between 100dBA – 115dBA for even 5-15 minutes can also cause permanent hearing loss. If you need to shout in someone’s ear to be heard chances are the noise level is above 100dBA. An MP3 player or music through stock earphones at maximum volume or sitting in a loud concert can all be over 105 decibels.
- Repeated or longer exposure to levels over 85dBA can also be damaging. An idling bulldozer or heavy city traffic at 85dBA, or motorcycles at 95dBA can cause hearing loss in as little as an 8 hour time period.
The sounds around you may also pose a risk of gradual, noise-induced hearing loss if you experience either of these signs after a loud noise has stopped:
- a temporary hearing loss – sounds seem muffled, quieter or less clear
- tinnitus – a ringing, buzzing, roaring or rushing sound in the ear, not caused by a source outside the ear
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) research (https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/noise-induced-hearing-loss) they state that:
“NIHL is the only type of hearing loss that is completely preventable. If you understand the hazards of noise and how to practice good hearing health, you can protect your
How can we practice good hearing health?
A good rule of thumb is to avoid noises that are too loud, too close, or last too long. We should also be teaching our children to protect their hearing. Instructing them to cover or plug their ears if exposed to loud sounds such as sirens, firecracker, airplanes at takeoff or landing, motorcycles or loud trucks. We can also show our children that we value both theirs and our hearing by using appropriate hearing protection devices when mowing the lawn, using the weed eater, table saw, chain saw or other loud mechanical device or any events that we know will produce loud noise. Limiting the amount of time around noisy T.V., Video Games or using ear buds with their intense concentration of sound are all wise choices that can be made in favour of protecting hearing.
So, maybe you won’t take the kids to the Monster Truck Jam but what other activities are exposing you, your family and friends to sound levels above the 85dBA range? Add up some of the noise levels you are exposed to that would be considered above the 85 dBA level and how long you are exposed to them. This will have a cumulative effect on your hearing over time.
How can you protect your hearing?
Part of the suggested preventative measures from the WHO include: “reducing exposure (both occupational and recreational) to loud sounds by raising awareness about the risks; developing and enforcing relevant legislation; and encouraging individuals to use personal protective devices such as earplugs and noise-cancelling earphones and headphones”.