Audiology

How Loud Is It?

The best way to protect against hearing loss in the future is to protect your hearing today and every day.  A decibel level of 85 warrants consideration for ear protection.

Hair Cells

Children's hearing is more sensitive because the ear canal is smaller and sounds become louder as they develop in a smaller space. That can translate into as much as a 20 dB difference between an adult's ears and a child's ears which can cause a child's hearing to be damaged more easily.

Ear plugs are especially useful to people exposed to excessively noisy devices or environments (85 decibels or more).

Listening to a portable MP3 music player too loudly or for too long could permanently damage your hearing, (American Academy of Audiologists). Being at close range to a single extremely loud sound such as a shotgun blast (about 145-165 decibels dB) can cause permanent damage to your hearing, but so can constant exposure to the more moderate levels of noise produced by music players. At peak volume, a music player can reach 110 to 120 dB.

Construction   Music
Rock drilling
up to115 dBA   Clubs and discos 91-96 dBA or more
Chain saw operation up to 125 dBA   Dance floor 85-100 dBA
Abrasive blasting 105-112 dBA   At the bar 90 dBA and up
Heavy equipment operation 95-110 dBA   MP3 player/ear buds 60-120 dBA
Demolition up to 117 dBA   Rock concerts 100 dBA or more
Jack hammer 102-111 dBA   Car stereos up to 154 dBA in the car
Concrete joint cutter 99-102 dBA   Home stereo 80-115 dBA
Skill saw 88-102 dBA   House and Garden
Stud welder 101 dBA   Leaf blower 103 dBA (gas)
Bulldozer 93-96 dBA   Chain Saw up to 116 dBA
Earth tamper  90-96 dBA   Lawn mower 95-120 dBA
Crane 90-96 dBA   Power saw 95-115 dBA
Hammer 87-95 dBA   Router 85-110 dBA
Front-end loader 86-94 dBA   Food blender 88 dBA
Backhoe 84-93 dBA   Vacuum cleaner 88 dBA
Firearms   Average home interior 50 dBA
.22 caliber rifles 132-139 dBA peak   Miscellaneous
12-gauge shotguns 150-165 dBA peak   Toy pistols 150-160 dBA peak
Rifles 143-170 dBA peak   Jazzercize class 90-92 dBA
Environmental   Sporting events 95-100 dBA average
Leaves rustling in a breeze 20 dBA   Referee whistles 103-107 dBA
Whisper at 5 feet 30 dBA   Motorcycle 80-115 dBA
Heavy traffic 78 dBA   Ambulance siren 120 dBA
Thunder clap  120 dBA   Firecrackers 140 dbA
Moderate rainfall 50 dbA   Fishing (powerboat) 60-115 dBA

Decibels (dB) are a measurement of sound intensity over the standard threshold of hearing. dBA is sound intensity with an "A" contour filter. The filter adjusts the measurement to account for the way in which the ear responds to different frequencies of sound.

Learn how sound travels through the ear»

Proper use and fitting of hearing protection is essential to safeguard your hearing.

Instructions on how to properly use hearing protection »

  • Exposure to loud noise will inevitably cause hearing loss over time.
  • Loud noise damages or destroys the nerves/hair cells in the inner ear.
  • Our ears can recover from short exposure to loud noise, but over time nerve damage will occur.
  • The longer and louder the noise, the greater chance permanent damage will occur.
  • Hearing loss from noise exposure is usually not noticed because it is so gradual.
  • Usually a person loses the ability to hear higher pitches first.
  • Often the first noticeable effect is difficulty in hearing speech.