Now that spring is here and you’re spending more time enjoying the outdoors and other recreational activities, ensure these sources of city noise pollution don’t adversely affect your hearing.
Residing in a central location in a busy city is certainly convenient and exciting, but beware of being out and about during rush hour. Heavy traffic produces noise levels of around 92 decibels (dB), which is beyond the threshold for hearing safely.
Jackhammers, garbage trucks, and construction work exacerbate the noise pollution caused by regular traffic by up to 120 dB, making those areas particularly hazardous to your hearing health. You’ll notice that those who operate this kind of machinery are wearing hearing protection. That means you’ll need to do the same if passing by construction sites is unavoidable.
If you live in close quarters with noisy neighbors, such as in an apartment building, they may be putting your hearing at risk with loud music, especially if it’s bass heavy. Frequencies below the 500- to 2,000-hertz (Hz) range, while often reported to be less painful than higher frequencies, have been shown to damage hearing just as much. Barking dogs can also take a toll — even small breeds like Yorkies and corgis can yap at 100 dB, which is hazardous to your hearing if your exposure lasts more than an hour.
That’s right, your local shopping mall — where you go to get some effortless, air-conditioned exercise and indulge in a little retail therapy — can be a hotbed of noise pollution. Shopping is typically a family affair, so most shoppers bring their children along with them. Babies cry at 200 to 500 Hz, a range at which the human ear is particularly sensitive. Even older children can produce piercing sounds that both shatter your composure and expose you to dangerous noise levels. The acoustic environment of a shopping mall also creates a great deal of echo so that even normal speaking voices are amplified.
Excess noise not only damages hearing but impacts total body health cumulatively. Adults who live and work in noisy environments exhibit higher incidences of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. It is important to protect your hearing as an integral approach to a healthy lifestyle.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Hearing
- Earplugs: Look for flanges that limit the volume while still allowing for clear hearing of speech. Foam or silicone construction is best for earplugs because it reduces additional decibels.
- Earmuffs: Look for soft, padded ear cups with a slim headband so the earmuffs will stay in place comfortably. Those soft ear cups will help air circulation over the ear to keep your head cool. You can even find foldable, easy-to-carry earmuffs as well as reflective ones.
- Musicians’ earplugs: These earplugs are attenuated for accurate replication of sound for musicians, as the fidelity of the original sound is preserved. Sound quality is clearer and more natural, and listening fatigue due to noise exposure is reduced.