According to the Environmental Protection Agency, noise pollution “adversely affects the lives of millions of people.” The EPA warns that health problems related to noise can include high blood pressure, sleep disruption, stress related illnesses, and more.
El Camino Hospital characterizes loud noise by intensity measured in decibels, pitch measured in hertz (Hz, which means cycles per second), and duration. Normal conversation levels occur at about 60 decibels. Continual exposure to more than 85 decibels can be dangerous. Pitch is the frequency of sound vibrations per second. The lower the pitch (deeper sound), the fewer vibrations per second.
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, noise is damaging if:
- You have to shout to be heard.
- Your ears hurt or ring.
- You have difficulty hearing for a couple of hours after the exposure.
In order to help prevent hearing loss, take action with these five steps:
- Understand the sound levels of the noises in your environment.
- Learn about proper ear protection.
- Put physical distance between you and loud noise when it is present.
- Take breaks when you are exposed to noise for long periods of time.
- When listening to music through headphones, keep the volume at low-to- medium.
Hearing loss can occur after a one-time exposure to a loud noise or after repeated exposure to varying loud noises. Exposure to loud noises can occur at work, at home, or at play.