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High Decibel Levels

Sounds are measured in decibels, or dB. With extended or up-close exposure, noises that reach 85 decibels or higher can cause permanent damage to the cilia, or hair cells, in the inner ear, leading to permanent hearing loss. Keep in mind that exposure to sounds higher than 110 decibels can cause instantaneous hearing loss.

Levels and sources of damaging noise include:

  • 85 – 100 decibels: For example, a hair dryer, blender, power lawn mower, forklift, or subway train
  • 100 – 120 decibels: For example, a bulldozer, impact wrench, or motorcycle
  • 120 – 140 decibels: Such as, a rock concert, auto racing, or a hammer pounding a nail
  • 125 – 155 decibels: Like, firecrackers or fireworks, or a jet engine
  • 170 – 190 decibels: For example, a shot gun blast or a rocket lift off

Without hearing protection, high-decibel exposure can damage hearing, especially when experienced at close range or for prolonged periods of time. It’s important to wear ear plugs or other hearing protection devices when engaging in noisy activities in order to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.

Keep in mind there are a variety of mobile applications and hand-held noise meters available that monitor noise levels.

Quick Fact

#1

In the military, hearing is fundamental to the instruction, teamwork, and reporting skills needed to accomplish any mission.

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The Hearing Center of Excellence fosters and promotes the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, rehabilitation and research of hearing loss and auditory injury. It supports the development, exchange and adoption of best practices, research, measures of effectiveness and clinical care guidelines to reduce the prevalence and cost of hearing loss and tinnitus among Warriors and Veterans. Read more

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