Hearing Protection

Understanding Noise Induced Hearing Loss

SoundIntensity (dB)
Lawn mower88-94
Heavy traffic, Noisy restaurant85-90
Tractor, Air compressor90-95
Vacuum cleaner60-85
Hairdryer80-95
Handsaw85
Truck, Shouted conversation90
Electric drill95
Motorcycle95-110
Disco, Night club110
Car hooter, baby crying110
Hammer hitting nail120
Ambulance siren120
Percussion section at symphony concert130
Jet airplane taking off140
Balloon popping157
Handgun166
Woodworking100
Busy video-games arcade110
Rock concert110-120
Rugby game (stadium)117
Jackhammer130
Airplane taking off140
Firecracker150
Rifle shot163
Shotgun170

OSHA Permissible Daily Noise Exposure

Duration in hoursSound Level in dBA
885
488
291
194
30 min97
15 min100

Noise exposure of 85db and above can cause a progressive, irreversible inner ear hearing loss.

Three Types of Noise Induced Hearing Loss

  1. Temporary Threshold Shift

Initial temporary elevation in hearing thresholds after exposure, recovers gradually.

  1. Permanent Threshold Shift

Accumulation of noise exposure, repeatedly on a daily basis over a period. Gradually, person usually unaware of change in hearing

  1. Acoustic trauma

Single exposure or relatively few exposures to very high levels of sound e.g. explosions. The effects on the ear might be temporary e.g. if it caused the eardrums to rupture, or permanent when the delicate structures of the inner ear are damaged.

Individuals in the following situations should take special care:

  • Hunters
  • Musicians
  • Recreational shooters
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Labourers of industries/mines
  • Motorcyclists

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