In working with many of my laboratory customers under the topic of “Protection”, it’s important that one’s eyes, hands, skin and head are all taken into consideration. I recently started to review the large offering of earplugs and was amazed as to what is available. So the question of, “what is an acceptable decibel level” came up. While doing my research I have found that many web sites have different views on safe exposure times to loud sounds. Some web sites will say that you should not be exposed to noises that exceed 80 dB for more than 8 hours, other say 85 dB and some even say 90 dB.
The current consensus seems to consider it safe for your ears to be exposed up to 80 dB of sound 24 hours a day. But who knows, next year, “they” may find that this is still too high and drop it some more. It appears that everyone’s ears are different. Some ears are more “robust” than others, and thus can stand higher levels of sound without damage. I think they are trying to set the safe levels for all ears, not just the robust ones.
Therefore, if you keep the sound level down to well below 80 dB, the feeling is that you will not damage your hearing at all. FYI, the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] and the World Health Organization [WHO] recommend a maximum of 70 dB for continuous exposure.
So, if your job is working in a noisy manufacturing environment, a jet engine technician, frequent concert attendee or in my case, married to a loud zealous spouse with a “honey do list”, you have a large selection of hearing protection to choose from. It basically comes down to personal preference. Again, I am addressing earplugs versus earmuffs, which I hope to review in a future segment. After making a decision of going with a disposable or reusable plug, you’ll find the majority of the material being used is foam related, which provides comfort and flexibility to fit each individual ear canal. The other choice being, to go corded or uncorded. Again, it comes down to personal preference.
I welcome feedback from anyone reading this blog, who has personal experience and recommendations to share. StephenG