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Statistics About What Noises Can Cause Hearing Loss

The statistics concerning noise pollution and its effects on hearing are alarming enough to ensure we take drastic measures to protect our hearing.

Noise pollution has emerged as one of the major nuisances in the modern world and has been known to promote serious health implications, one of which is hearing loss. The World Health Organization refers to environmental noise as an “underestimated threat.”

The statistics concerning noise pollution and its effects on hearing are alarming enough to ensure we take drastic measures to protect our hearing. Any noise whose intensity lies above 75 decibels can be harmful to the ears. Here are some interesting yet shocking facts.

  • One out of every four Americans is affected by hearing loss.
  • Exposing your ears to a one-time noise intensity of 20 decibels can lead to hearing loss.
  • Continuous noise exposure as low as 85 decibels can lead to hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss is the third most common health condition (chronic) in America.
  • Between 2001 and 2008, around 30 million Americans of the ages 12 and above had hearing loss in both ears.

Studies have proven that long-term exposure to noise levels above 75 decibels kills sensory hair cells in the cochlea, leading to increased sound perceptibility but decreased potential to ascertain a particular sound.

A lifetime of exposure to over 8 hours of noise above 90 decibels (factories and offices) leads to a 25% excess risk of hearing loss.

According to WHO, almost 50% of people between the ages of 12 and 35 years are exposed to unsafe levels of noise from audio devices and headphones. Also, 40% of people between the ages of 12 and 35 years are at risk of developing hearing loss at entertainment venues.

 

Listed here are some noises that can cause hearing loss.

 

  • Rock concerts – 130 to 140 decibels
  • Sporting events – 100 to 140 decibels
  • Jet engines – 130 decibels
  • Ambulance sirens – 100 to 140 decibels
  • Chainsaw – 100 to 140 decibels
  • Home stereo system at maximum volume – 100 to 140 decibels
  • Construction sites – 100 decibels
  • Night clubs with music – 110 decibels
  • Operating heavy equipment – 120 decibels

A minute of exposure to sounds as high as 140 decibels can lead to permanent hearing loss.

  • Garbage truck – 85 to 100 decibels
  • Snowmobile – 85 to 100 decibels
  • Jackhammer – 85 to 100 decibels
  • Power mower – 85 to 100 decibels
  • Motorbike – 85 to 100 decibels
  • Freight train – 85 decibels

Other items that seem harmless and could cause temporary or permanent hearing loss include the following:

  • Hairdryer
  • Movie theatre
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Dog barking
  • Headphones and ear buds
  • Hammering
  • Baby crying

Hearing loss does not pop up overnight – although in some cases (such as a gunshot), it could. Now that you're aware of the implications of loud noise, you can take steps to ensure you protect your ears.

Wearing ear muffs, avoiding loud places, listening to music at lower volumes, and decreasing the use of headphones can all ward off hearing loss. Even a baby crying for long periods can hurt your ears, so ensure you take the right precautions for several years of good hearing.

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