Thinking about the peace of a tree-canopied waterfall, the melodic chirps of exotic birds, and the tranquil babble of a winding creek is enough to set your mind at ease…for a few minutes. Then the reality of our noisy world pierces your unprotected ears. It’s difficult to get away from everyday noise. You’ve got the TV, radio, iPods, cell phones, traffic, loud little ones; the inundation is endless. Today, I want to focus on one common item in particular that may actually be endangering your hearing – the iPod.
How Loud is Loud?
First, let’s take a look at some basic guidelines for auditory safety. Listening to any sound at or above 85 decibels for a prolonged period of time can cause permanent damage to hearing. FYI, that’s about what your bombarded with while standing on a city street corner, listening to a musical ensemble in a small auditorium, playing the piano, vacuuming, or conversing with an overly expressive friend (you know the type). The bad part is that these common events are on the low end of the DB scale.
“According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders ( NIDCD) more than 30 million Americans are exposed to hazardous sound levels on a regular basis. Of the 28 million Americans who have some degree of hearing loss, over one-third have been affected, at least in part, by noise.” The American Speech-Language Hearing Association
Now for the bad things we really need to be careful with. Obviously, most of us don’t attend rock concerts (120-150 DB) or use equipment like jackhammers (130 DB) every day, but we do own iPods or some other ear-phoned device that we listen to often. At peak volume, the iPod DB level is around 120 – not so good considering the maximum “safe” exposure time to sound at that level is 8 seconds. How many people do you know who listen to their music for only 8 seconds at a time? And who do you think is cranking up the volume? That’s right, the young people – our children.
What To Do About It
First, you can set a good example for your kids by limiting your own exposure to excessive noise. That means you, rock-mama! Turn it down and keep it down to under 60% of the max volume. Explain to your children (yes, you have to engage the teenagers) that you are concerned about their hearing. Set some rules for their iPod use. They might not like it, but chances are they will listen (well, maybe a little). Make sure to get the whole family’s hearing checked regularly. Your health care provider will let you know if there are any problems occurring.
Protecting one of our most precious senses is worth any sacrifice we have make. Educating yourself about potential hazards in your home and workplace is a step in the right direction. For more information about hearing loss, visit asga.org. Be well-be beautiful.
Photo by Evolutionsky