How loud is too loud? Sound can cause hearing loss at a level of 85 or more dBA (A-weighted decibels). The louder a sound is, the faster it can damage your hearing. According to the CDC, 5 in 10 young people listen to their music or other audio too loudly and more than 1 in 2 adults in the US have noise-induced hearing loss but do not have noisy jobs. The problem with loud noises is that they can permanently damage your hearing from repeated or extended exposure - but if the sound is loud enough, even 2 minutes of exposure can cause damage to your hearing.
A safe level of sound is typically considered to be 70 dBA or less, with normal conversation being around 60-70 dBA. Other safe sounds would be whispering (30 dBA) and the sound of your refrigerator/dishwasher running (40-65 dBA).
Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dBA can damage your hearing - this includes movie theaters (74-104 dBA), lawnmowers (80-100 dBA), motorcycles (80-110 dBA), listening with headphones/sporting events/concerts (94-110 dBA). In fact, 8 hours at 85 dBA and 14 minutes at 100 dBA can cause hearing loss.
At even higher decibels are sounds such as an emergency vehicle's siren (110-129 dBA), a plane taking off (140 dBA), and a fireworks show (140-160 dBA). Sounds at 110 dBA can cause damage to your hearing in just 2 minutes! Follow the tips below to help protect yourself from noise-induced hearing loss: