Now that spring is here and you’re spending more time enjoying the outdoors and other recreational activities, ensure these sources of rural noise pollution don’t damage your hearing health.
It’s no secret that tractors and plows are noisy, but did you know the sounds they produce are loud enough to damage your hearing? Depending on the model, tractors can produce continuous noise between 100 and 110 decibels (dB), which is considered unsafe for hearing health. Chain saws, leaf blowers, and snowblowers produce sounds between 106 and 115 dB, so always wear hearing protection when operating these types of equipment.
A rooster can crow at around the same decibel level as a barking dog: between 85 and 95 dB. While that may not seem dangerously loud, prolonged exposure can damage hearing, often without you noticing until it is too late. Additionally, horses and pigs can also produce sounds within that range (typically when distressed), so be aware of your surroundings when working with livestock.
One of the most pleasant aspects of springtime is the soothing sound of a hard spring rain. Unfortunately, some areas experience violent storms, which can create unsafe levels of noise pollution. A thunderclap is usually around 120 dB. That is 10 times louder than a garbage truck or a pneumatic jackhammer drill. From far away, it won’t have an effect on your hearing, but up close it can cause temporary deafness or even rupture the ear’s tympanic membrane.
The sheer volume of a firing gun combined with the shooter’s proximity to the sound make hearing protection during target practice and hunting an absolute must. At decibel levels between 140 and 150, firearms are sources of high-impact blasts and can hurt your hearing with just one exposure.
Excessive 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.