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  • This is just some of the noise that I'm exposed to.

  • And that doesn't even include the progressive rock my neighbors listen to every single morning.

  • All this noise is really annoying, but it's also killing my ears.

  • Hearing loss is the fourth highest cause of disability across the world, and it's expected to get much worse.

  • In the US alone, one in four adults show signs of noise-induced hearing loss.

  • One of the main reasons behind that is all the noise that's around us every single day.

  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the best way to protect your hearing is to limit noise levels to 70 decibels.

  • And experts agree that continued exposure to noise above 85 dBA will eventually harm your hearing.

  • If you're curious about the noise levels around you, decibel readers like this one tell you exactly how much noise you're being exposed to.

  • This one's actually fine.

  • I ride the subway for hours everyday and it's really, really loud.

  • But putting in my headphones doesn't really help.

  • Smartphones cranked (all the way) up are about 100 decibels.

  • This bar is 105 decibels and according to the World Health Organization that could damage your hearing in less than an hour.

  • This chart shows that the louder the noise, the less exposure it takes to potentially damage your hearing.

  • For example, a boiler room is about 95 decibels, so if you hung out in one for 4 hours you would not only be a f***ing psycho, but you would expose yourself to hearing damage as well.

  • One of the worst things about hearing loss is that ear damage is irreversible.

  • Most of us are born with something like 16,000 little hair cells in our ears, and these hair cells act as sound detectors.

  • So when sound waves pass into our ears, they send a signal up to our brain, and then our brain decodes the sound.

  • But the brain's interpretation is only as good as the signal it receives from the ear.

  • And when the hair cells in the ear have been damaged, the brain can't detect the sound or the sound is distorted.

  • You can think about the hair cells like grass, when you're walking through a field and you walk over blades of grass, they bounce back after a few minutes.

  • But when you walk through that field enough times you eventually create a path and the same thing happens with the hair cells in your ears.

  • When loud sounds pass into the ears and at high enough intensity they bend those hair cells, and they can bounce back during a recovery period.

  • But with enough noise over enough time those hair cells get permanently damaged or destroyed.

  • When it comes to help from the government, I've got some good news and some bad news.

  • The good news is that in the early 1970s, President Richard Nixon passed the Noise Control Act, which recognized Americans' right to a quiet environment.

  • The bad news is that in 1981 President Ronald Reagan came along and essentially shut down the effort and left local governments to fend for themselves.

  • The problem with that is that local governments relied on federal funding to tackle noise problems.

  • So, yeah, you might be on your own on this one, but there are ways you can prevent noise induced hearing loss.

  • You can wear noise canceling headphones or foam earplugs in loud environments like the subway or on airplanes.

  • You can limit the amount of time you're exposed to loud sounds and move further away from the source of the noise.

  • You can go into the settings and set a maximum volume on your phone to prevent playing your music too loud.

  • So, yeah the problem is bad, but you don't have to take it lying down.

  • One of my favorite discoveries had been this app called SoundPrint, which allows users to submit their decibel readings in bars, restaurants, and cafes.

  • And I've been using it to avoid really loud places.

This is just some of the noise that I'm exposed to.

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A2 US Vox noise hearing hearing loss hair loud

How noise pollution is ruining your hearing

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    Evangeline posted on 2019/01/24
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