According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “over 1 billion people aged 12 to 35 years are at risk to having permanent hearing damage due to exposure to loud music and other recreational noise.” Exposure to loud sounds can cause hearing loss and/or tinnitus, which can become permanent with prolonged exposure. This noise exposure can come in the form of concerts, personal audio players, recreational shooting, etc. Although the organization cannot stop someone from turning up their personal music too loud, there are recommendations that can be published to help combat excess noise in public venues. At the moment, public venues generally do not have a limit on noise levels. The release of these recommendations was timed with World Hearing Day 2022, which took place on March 3.
The recommendations include the following for public venues:
- Limiting sound levels to 100 dB.
- Monitoring sound levels with appropriately calibrated equipment and trained personnel.
- Optimizing venue acoustics and sound systems.
- Making personal hearing protection available.
- Offering access to quiet zones.
- Providing training information to staff and audience members.
As audiologists, it is our job to educate our patients on the importance of protecting their hearing, especially our younger patients. Here are some ways you can protect your hearing:
- keeping the volume down on personal audio devices
- using well-fitted, and if possible, noise-cancelling earphones/headphones
- wearing earplugs at noisy venues
- getting regular hearing check-ups