What Are Decibels?

Hearing Loss and Dementia
September 5, 2018
When It’s Too Loud To Speak
September 30, 2018

What are Decibels?

Decibels (dB) are units that are used to measure sound level/intensity. Audiologists use decibels to set hearing aids to the comfort of the user on a scale of 0 – 140 decibels, with 0 being no sound and 140 being the most sound. It is important to note that “while we can hear more than 140 decibels, it is too painful for our ears and if you expose yourself to such a loud noise you are at extremely high risk of permanent damage to your hearing” (Alpine).

Some noises that are above 140 decibels would be fireworks (150 dB), shooting off a pistol or rifle (160 dB), and near a rocket launch platform (180 dB). Here are how some sounds rank based on decibels:

  • Normal conversation: 60 dB
  • Heavy city traffic: 85 dB
  • Lawn mower: 90 dB
  • MP3 player at maximum volume: 105 dB
  • Sirens (ambulance, police, etc.): 120 dB
  • Concerts: 120 dB
  • Sporting events: range from 105 dB to 130 dB*
  • Firearms: 150 dB

This chart goes into detail about the sounds mentioned above: 

*In 2017, the Guinness Book of World Records released a list of the top loudest sports stadiums in the world. Here are the top 5:

Turk Telekom Stadium – Istanbul, Turkey (2011) – 131.dB

Memorial Stadium – Clemson, SC (2007) – 132.8 dB

Husky Stadium – Seattle, WA (1992) – 133.6 dB

CenturyLink Field – Seattle, WA (2013) – 137.6

Arrowhead Stadium – Kansas City, MO (2014) – 142.2 dB

Many of us enjoy sporting events and concerts and think that a few hours of these loud noises would not be damaging. However, that is not the case. Noisehelp.com teaches us that

  • At 100 dB, damage can occur with 15 minutes of exposure
  • At 112 dB, damage can occur with only one minute of exposure
  • At 140 dB, immediate nerve damage can occur

 

At events you know will be long and noisy it is important to plan for it. Babies and children are not the only ones that need hearing protection at noisy events, you do too! Keep these facts in mind next time you go to a loud arena. Every decibel and minute counts!

 

Sources:

https://www.alpinehearingprotection.co.uk/5-sound-levels-in-decibels/

https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52514-What-is-a-decibel

https://hushcitysp.com/2017/10/06/top-10-loudest-sports-stadiums-in-the-world/

https://www.noisehelp.com/noise-dose.html

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