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Common Environmental
Noise Levels

 
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How loud is too loud?

Continued exposure to noise above 85 dBA (adjusted decibels) over time will cause hearing loss. The volume (dBA) and the length of exposure to the sound will tell you how harmful the noise is. In general, the louder the noise, the less time required before hearing loss will occur.
 

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the maximum exposure time at 85 dBA is eight hours. At 110 dBA, the maximum exposure time is one minute and 29 seconds. If you must be exposed to noise, it is recommended that you limit the exposure time and/or wear hearing protection. A three dBA increase doubles the amount of noise and halves the recommended amount of exposure time.
 

The following decibel levels of common noise sources are typical but will vary. Noise levels above 140dBA can cause damage to hearing after just one exposure.
 

Points of Reference

*measured in dBA or decibels

  • 0 The softest sound a person can hear
    with normal hearing

  • 10 normal breathing

  • 20 whispering at 5 feet

  • 30 soft whisper

  • 50 rainfall

  • 60 normal conversation

  • 110 shouting in the ear

  • 120 thunder

Do you think your hearing may have been impacted by noise?

 

Take our FREE online hearing screening to find out*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on noise awareness, please check out our sister site, NoiseAwareness.org

Guidelines for a successful screening

  • Find a quiet space

  • Make sure you have handy wireless or wired headset or earbuds

  • This screening is intended for age 18 years and older

  • Although the screening is not a replacement for a hearing test, it is a great indicator as to where your hearing stands

Common Environmental Noise Levels

HOME
 

•50 - 60 electric toothbrush

•50 - 75 washing machine

•50 - 75 air conditioner

•50 - 80 electric shaver

•55 coffee percolator

•55 - 70 dishwasher

•60 sewing machine

•60 - 85 vacuum cleaner

•60 - 95 hair dryer

•65 - 80 alarm clock

•70 TV audio

•70 - 80 coffee grinder

•70 - 95 garbage disposal

•75 - 85 flush toilet

•80 pop-up toaster

•80 doorbell

•80 ringing telephone

•80 whistling kettle

•80 - 90 food mixer or processor

•80 - 90 blender

•80 - 95 garbage disposal

•110 baby crying

•110 squeaky toy held close to
the ear

•135 noisy squeeze toys

WORK
 

•40 quiet office, library

•50 large office

•65 - 95 power lawn mower

•80 manual machine, tools

•85 handsaw

•90 tractor

•90 - 115 subway

•95 electric drill

•100 factory machinery

•100 woodworking class

•105 snow blower

•110 power saw

•110 leafblower

•120 chain saw, hammer on nail

•120 pneumatic drills, heavy machine

•120 jet plane (at ramp)

•120 ambulance siren

•125 chain saw

•130 jackhammer, power drill

•130 air raid

•130 percussion section at symphony

•140 airplane taking off

•150 jet engine taking off

•150 artillery fire at 500 feet

•180 rocket launching from pad

 
 

RECREATION
 

•40 quiet residential area

•70 freeway traffic

•85 heavy traffic, noisy restaurant

•90 truck, shouted conversation

•95 - 110 motorcycle

•100 snowmobile

•100 school dance, boom box

•110 disco

•110 busy video arcade

•110 symphony concert

•110 car horn

•110 -120 rock concert

•112 personal cassette player on high

•117 football game (stadium)

•120 band concert

•125 auto stereo (factory installed)

•130 stock car races

•143 bicycle horn

•150 firecracker

•156 capgun

•157 balloon pop

•162 fireworks (at 3 feet)

•163 rifle

•166 handgun

•170 shotgun

 

*This screening is intended for people 18 years and older who have noticed a change in their hearing for the first time. If you are an existing client and have noticed a change in your hearing, please reach out to your CHC audiologist or contact us for assistance.