How To Protect Your Hearing from Noise
According to EU Scientists, one in ten 30 year olds will wear a hearing aid by 2020 if they don’t protect their hearing!
Hearing Loss and Age
Hearing loss can occur suddenly but as we age we lose acuity. However, this is not just down to age; another reason is Sociocusis (so-see-oh-KOO-sis).
Hearing Loss and Modern Society
Sociocusis is the result of the accumulated effects that living in modern society has on our hearing. This should come as no surprise as our world is filled with noise; electrical appliances in the kitchen, traffic, using the underground, concerts, festivals and listening to music through iPods at high volume.
Sounds exceeding 85 dB SPL are considered harmful. The noise created by daily traffic can easily equate to 85 dB SPL. Loud music in nightclubs or concerts can easily peak at 100 dB SPL whilst noise on the London underground can peak at 118dB, louder than a pneumatic drill.
Hearing Loss and the iPod generation
When is loud too loud?
Noise levels of 85 decibels or more are unsafe. If you have to shout at a party to be heard or if the person you’re sitting next to can hear the music escaping from your earphones, it’s too loud.
A Cubex study, backed by Environmental Protection UK was carried out at tube stations, universities and at their clinic in London. The study revealed that two thirds of Londoners are exceeding safe listening levels with 66% of the 300 tested exceeding 85 decibels.
The How loud are you listening to music? campaign revealed that one gentleman was listening to music louder than 100 decibels (similar to the level of a pneumatic drill) and complained that he was experiencing tinnitus and headaches. He was advised not to listen at this level (exposure for 4 minutes or more per day may cause permanent damage). It was suggested that he also consult with his GP.
Another young lady who was studying at the University of the Arts in High Holborn was listening to music at 110dB and was aware that she could be damaging her hearing but was not too concerned. Only after a discussion did she understand how important it was to reduce the volume.
It is not uncommon to discover people listening to their iPods at volumes similar to a pneumatic drill or a jet engine. We routinely urge our clients to be aware of the risks of excessive noise exposure and to practice safe listening so they can enjoy a lifetime of listening pleasure. The EU is currently looking at plans to monitor noise levels from headphones.
The safe time-weighted averages for listening to the iPod at various volumes:
Noise damage is caused by two things — volume and duration. The higher the volume the shorter the listening time before problems may occur. Experts agree that a safe limit is 85 decibels and this should not exceed 4 hours/day.
3 steps to safer hearing are:
- Turn down the volume
- Move away from the source
- Use ear protection
Hearing protection include earmuffs, ear plugs and semi-inserts (cover the entrance to the ear canal). For hearing protection solutions to be effective, they should reduce noise to below 85 decibels; be compatible with other protective equipment; be a good fit; be used correctly and maintained in good working condition.
Types of ear protection
Foam Plugs are a one size fits all design. They expand in the ear to reduce external noise. Unfortunately, plugs also reduce the frequencies important for understanding speech and users typically complain that voices sounds muffled.
Generic Fit Plugs like the ER20 is a one size fits all but is filtered and designed to reduce noise without muffling voices, environmental sounds or music. They provide an inexpensive and effective solution and provide an attenuation of 20 decibels. They come in two sizes; standard and small, ideal for children and tiny ears.
Custom Plugs require an impression of the ear canal to be taken by the Audiologist. Protecting your hearing isn’t just about blocking out sound. Filtered custom plugs like the ER custom range protect your hearing whilst allowing communication.
Developed for a variety of purposes requiring noise reduction, it is successfully used by many top bands, pilots, drivers and NASA astronauts. Level attenuating hearing protectors let the wearer hear all of the detail, character and atmosphere of the music in a safer, quieter way. The ER15 gives an average 15dB reduction making it ideal for use in amplified environments.
What does ‘level attenuating’ mean?
Conventional hearing protectors attenuate (reduce), outside sound levels, but their problem is they can’t reduce the levels equally and cut out more high frequency sounds than they do low frequency sounds. This means that everything sounds muffled and distorted. That’s OK if you’re operating a chain saw, but if you want to play or listen to live music, you need to hear everything in balance.
Custom made plugs ER15 level attenuating hearing protectors reduce all sounds equally, so it’s just like turning down the volume without sacrificing any of the definition of what you want and need to hear.
Each pair of ERs is tuned to work perfectly with individual ears and is tested using specialist equipment. They are made to measure and therefore provide unparalleled comfort. The soft silicone construction means they move as the wearer does.
If you are a musician, audio engineer or want to improve your listening experience, custom made in ear monitors (IEM) lets the wearer hear the mix of vocals or instrumentation they want and blocks out what they don’t. IEM’s like the T-Series use medical-grade silicone for better isolation and comfort. Manufacturing electronics in silicone is not the easiest approach but the result is more than worth the effort. The shape of the ear canal changes with the movement of the jaw and having a flexible earpiece not only gives the wearer the obvious benefits of greater comfort but also helps to maintain a more consistent seal, particularly during vocal performances. Using a softer compound means that the monitors warm to body temperature faster giving better comfort, flexibility and isolation in just a few minutes.
The T1 Triple driver model has a Frequency Response 16 Hz ~ 20 KHz and Noise Isolation 26dB
Custom pieces for use with iPhones and MP3’s is a cost effective way to listen to music comfortably whilst reducing noise in environments such as in air planes or the underground. The custom moulds are made in either Silicone or Acrylic and are fitted over the earphone driver. The mould creates a seal which increases the low frequency response, improves attenuation, provides a comfortable fit and reduces the chance of the earphones falling out whilst exercising.
High noise filtering custom solutions are available in a variety of styles for those working in noisy environments, in the motor sport industry or engaging in noisy hobbies like shooting.
The PRO-20 filter provides attenuation specifically designed for high noise situations where there is an emphasis on higher pitch frequencies. For motor sport the PRO-20 provides protection against wind, road and engine noise whilst allowing the wearer to maintain situation awareness, hear the note of the engine and communicate clearly when stationary. Designed from the ground up for motorsport and industry the PRO-20 is the ideal filter for demanding environments. The PRO filter also provides water resistance so it will carry on performing in the hot or humid conditions of a crash helmet or demanding industrial environments with no detriment to the attenuation.
The PRO-27 filter provides attenuation specifically designed for very high noise situations where audible speech is still a requirement. Offering around 23dB isolation through the mid-range the PRO-27 peaks at nearly 35dB in the high frequencies offering exceptional isolation from dangerously loud high frequencies experienced in the pit lane, on a race bike or close-up to industrial machinery and tools. The PRO-27 is vented so that your own voice sounds more natural when speaking and is splash-proof making it ideal for use in the most demanding of environments.
The PRO-27 Communicator keeps you protected whilst still allowing you to converse with those around you. Its gives all the benefits of the PRO-27 ear plug so the individual can work and play safely in extremely loud environments however, this is also combined with the same technology used in T3 in-ear monitor, so you get clear and responsive audio that’s great for both communications and listening to music.
As part of our ongoing education program, we would like to continue to measure levels that students and festival goers listen to. If you would like us to participate in any awareness campaigns, feel free to get in touch.