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ODHHS Information
Hearing Loss: How Loud is Loud?
(Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, NIDCD)
Know which noises can cause damage and wear ear plugs when you are involved in a loud activity.
  • 110 Decibels: Regular exposure of more than 1 minute risks permanent hearing loss.
  • 100 Decibels: No more than 15 minutes unprotected exposure recommended.
  • 90 Decibels: Prolonged exposure to any noise above 90 decibels can cause gradual hearing loss.

Example Noise Levels (in decibels)
  • 0 Threshold of normal hearing
  • 20 Whispered voice
  • 40 Refrigerator humming
  • 60 Normal conversation
  • 80 City traffic noise
  • 90 Lawn mower, Motorcycle
  • 100 Wood shop
  • 110 Chainsaw
  • 120 Boom cars, Snowmobile
  • 140 Rock concerts, Firecrackers

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) provides information and resources for health professionals, patients, industry, and the public. To obtain information, requests may be mailed to the NIDCD Information Clearinghouse, 1 Communication Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20892-3456. To speak with an information specialist, call Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. eastern time at 1-800-241-1044 (voice) or 1-800-241-1055 (TTY). You may also contact the Clearinghouse by fax 301-907-8830 or e-mail nidcd@aerie.com.