The Washington Post recently published an article in May, “Noise exposure is becoming the new second hand smoke.” Just as second hand smoke can be detrimental to your health, loud noise can be dangerous as well negatively impacting more aspects of your health than just your hearing.
Noise is “the new secondhand-smoke issue,” said Bradley Vite, who pushed for regulations in Elkhart, Ind. “It took decades to educate people on the dangers of secondhand smoke. We may need decades to show the impact of secondhand noise.”
Noise Effects on Hearing When people think of hearing loss caused by noise, most people think of work related noise and disregard the sounds around them on a daily basis. Noise in our everyday lives can lead to temporary hearing loss or permanent hearing loss. The Environmental Protection Agency has said that noise below an average of 70 decibels over 24 hours is safe and won’t cause hearing loss. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says anything below an 85 dB won’t cause hearing loss for workers exposed to loud machinery.
Noise Effects on Overall Health A lesser known fact about noise is that it negatively affects overall health. “The consensus is that if we can keep noise below 70 decibels on average, that would eliminate hearing loss,” Neitzel said. “But the problem is that if noise is more than 50 decibels, there’s an increased risk of heart attack and hypertension,” he said. “Noise at 70 decibels is not safe.” According to the Earth Journalism Network, when you hear a jackhammer, that’s 130 decibels of noise; a chain saw, 110. At a rock concert standing near the speakers? 120. Getting passed by police with sirens blazing? 120. Behind a garbage truck? 100. At a noisy restaurant? 70. Therefore it is very important to develop alternative means of noise induced hearing loss prevention.”
Noise-induced hearing loss, one of the most common forms of hearing loss, is a major health problem. It is largely preventable and is probably more widespread than revealed by conventional pure tone testing. Hearing loss has been linked to dementia, depression, and cardiovascular disease.
Steps to Protect Yourself
If we all try to be more aware of reducing and protecting ourselves from noise in our everyday life, then we are promoting our body’s overall health.
Tips to reduce noise exposure include: (1) reduce the noise at the source, (2) distance yourself from the noise, (3) wear hearing protection.