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How loud is too loud? -
decibels

How loud is too loud?

Understading decibel levels

All of us are exposed to sounds constantly throughout our day. Many are harmless, but some, over time, can damage your hearing.

The loudness of sounds is measured in decibels (dB). Understanding decibel levels for different sounds helps you recognize when hearing protection may be in order.

Decibel levelWhat we hear
10 dBNormal breathing
20 dBRustling leaves, mosquito
30 dBWhisper
40 dBStream, refrigerator humming
50-60 dBQuiet office
50-65 dBNormal conversation
60-65 dBLaughter
70 dBVacuum cleaner, hairdryer
75 dBDishwasher
78 dBWashing machine
80 dBGarbage disposal, city traffic noise

Prolonged exposure to any noise above 85 dB can cause gradual hearing loss.

84 dBDiesel truck
70-90 dBRecreational vehicle
88 dBSubway, motorcycle
85-90 dBLawn mower
100 dBTrain, garbage truck
97 dBNewspaper press
98 dBFarm tractor

Regular exposure of more than 1 minute risks permanent hearing loss.

103 dBJet flyover at 100 feet
105 dBSnowmobile
110 dBJackhammer, power saw, symphony orchestra
120 dBThunderclap, discotheque/boom box
110-125 dBStereo
110-140 dBRock concerts
130 dBJet takeoff, shotgun firing
145 dBBoom cars

Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)