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Occupational and Routine Life Hearing Loss (Pt 2 of 4)

Posted on July 17, 2013 at 8:27 PM
Occupational and Routine Life Hearing Loss (Pt 2 of 4)
PREVENTING NOISE-INDUCED HEARING LOSS

How much noise is too much?

Noise is measured in units called “decibels”, abbreviated as “dB”. Noise levels can range from 1 dB (near silence) to 60 dB (quiet conversation) to 140 dB (a jet engine). Scientific studies have shown that people exposed to noise levels of 85 decibels and above over 8 hours or longer will gradually lose their hearing over time. If you have to shout to be heard by another person 3 feet from you, the noise level is probably above 85 decibels. Remember, the louder the noise level and the longer the exposure, the greater the risk of hearing loss. Noise levels above 140 decibels will cause immediate hearing loss. But everyone should wear hearing protection all the time when working around noise levels above 115 decibels. Here are some noise levels of commonly used equipment:
Equipment Noise Level
Back Hoe 85-95 decibels
Chain Saw 110 decibels
Front-end Loader 90-95 decibels
Gunshot 140 decibels
Jackhammer 112 decibels
Lawn Mower 90 decibels
Tractor 95-105 decibels
Circular Saw 90-100 decibels

How is noise measured?
 
Noise is measured with a sound level meter. These instruments measure noise in decibels. An inexpensive sound level meter can be purchased at an electronics store for as little as $60 and is suitable for measuring most workplace noise. More advanced and accurate sound level meters cost $300 or more. Below is an example of a sound level meter.
 
A sound level meter measures noise levels at a particular moment. There are also more sophisticated instruments that can measure average noise levels over a whole day.
 

How is hearing loss measured?
 
You may have been to a doctor or clinic where your hearing was tested by listening to different tones through headphones. These hearing tests are also called “audiometric testing” or “audiometric exams.” Audiometric testing checks how well you hear various sound pitches or frequencies and if there is a drop in your ability to hear these pitches over time. Most people naturally show a slight decrease in the ability to hear high-pitched sound as they get older. 
But people exposed to too much noise will typically show a great decrease in this ability. People with hearing loss caused by noise often say they can hear someone talking but cannot understand them. This is because human speech contains high-pitched sound in letters like s and t.

Categories: Hearing Health, Hearing Loss

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437 Comments

Reply Niel Smith
10:01 AM on September 30, 2013 
Our ears can bear sounds up to a specified limit, but when this limit crosses its threshold, it can be harmful for our ears. Generally individuals working at industrial areas have to face the variable sounds and frequencies of heavy machinery which can be dangerous for ears and can cause several ear disorders. If the noise is too high, it can also cause permanent deafness or hearing loss. It is always advisable to wear ear protections or advanced hearing aids while working on such heavy machines.
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