In our modern world, neighborhood noise pollution is a nigh-constant concern. Without the proper hearing protection, everyone puts their hearing capabilities at risk. Homes should be places of safety and peace of mind, but they can also be sources of extremely loud noises. Some of the more common sources include high-volume music that your teenager is playing in his or her room, an extremely loud TV in one of your home’s rooms, a vacuum cleaner picking up dirt on your carpet or even a baby or child having a temper tantrum.
Even if you step outside, you will have to contend with even more sources of noise pollution in your neighborhood. If you live in a city or busy suburban town, you are quite familiar with daily traffic-based noises, including loud engines, sirens from various emergency vehicles, honking cars and loud, noisy drivers. Beyond traffic, you may be exposed to loud noises from neighbors, including loud talking, kids playing loudly, a neighbor’s lawnmower, leaf blower, snow blower or neighbors starting their cars for their morning commutes. It’s likely that your neighborhood will be subject to loud noises coming from nearby construction projects, such as noise from bulldozers, dump trucks, cement mixers and front loaders. Besides construction vehicles, construction workers may use tools that produce loud noises, such as jackhammers, saws, drills, grinders and concrete chippers.
Noise Pollution and Hearing Loss
Exposure to loud neighborhood noises at sufficient decibel levels and durations can be disastrous for your hearing health. Many health organizations have pointed out that excessive noise levels and periods of noise can disrupt and hamper your daily tasks, whether at work, around your city or in your town. It could even interfere with your ability to simply relax at home. Noise pollution from your neighborhood can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. This fact is supported by a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey, stating that Americans view noise as the greatest issue impacting their neighborhoods. Neighborhood noise was ranked even higher than neighborhood crime.
Neighborhoods in urban areas are often subjected to noise levels above 80–85 decibels (dB), which is the threshold for noises to be considered harmful to your hearing health. Weekly garage truck pickups around your neighborhood will generate about 100 dB of noise. Car horns blaring from neighbors’ cars can produce about 110 dB of noise. Emergency vehicle sirens can sound at around 120 dB. From neighbors and animals to construction and emergency sirens, there are many sources of noise-induced hearing loss that can affect your neighborhood each day.
Common Noises that Contribute to Hearing Loss
Here are lists of neighborhood noises that can contribute to hearing loss and should be avoided or protected against.
110–140 dB—The National Institute of Health claims that merely one minute of exposure to these noise levels can create permanent hearing loss without adequate hearing protection:
- Loud music concerts or music festivals
- Running jet engine or low-flying aircrafts
- Construction tools such as nail guns, concrete chippers, chainsaws, grinders and welders
- Emergency response sirens from police cars, fire trucks and ambulances
- Speakers blaring music and other kinds of noise at their maximum volumes
85–100 dB—Permanent hearing loss can result from being continually exposed to these noise levels:
- Loudly barking dogs and other noisy pets/animals
- Neighbors using power lawn mowers, snowmobiles and other powered equipment
- Nearby nightlife establishments
- Garbage trucks collecting trash around the neighborhood
Managing Your Hearing Health
There are many things that you can do to reduce your exposure to harmful noises that can lead to hearing loss.
- Education: Learn about common sources of excessive noise in your neighborhood
- Avoiding loud music: Keep audio equipment noise levels down and take listening breaks
- Wearing hearing protection devices: Wear hearing protection devices (HPDs) when involved in loud recreational or work activities
If you are already suffering from hearing loss due to neighborhood noises and other noise sources, you can take certain steps to manage your hearing health. The best advice may be to see your hearing professional about hearing aids with the following helpful features:
- Rechargeable batteries
- Directional microphones
- Bluetooth capability