I’m Hearing Decibels

When you are cutting the grass in the summer you should consider wearing earplugs. A lawn mower runs at about 90 decibels, which is in the range that can lead to hearing loss if you have prolonged exposure.

What’s it all about?

Sound is measured in decibels, (dB). Decibels describe the sound pressure. A normal conversation is about 60 dB and sounds above 85 dB can cause hearing loss. The decibel scale works logarithmically, meaning that when a sound increases by 10 decibels it is actually 10 times louder. On this scale 0 dB measures the sound of total science, a sound 10 times more powerful would be 10 dB, while a sound 100 times louder than total silence is 20 dB.  The firing of a gun or firecracker is roughly 140 dB, which is about the loudest sound level your ears can handle at close range.  Intensity is only one property of the sound we hear; distance also plays a big factor. The sound of something decreases as the distance increases.  Decibel level is determined in relation to a human ear, so distance from a sound is important when determining the decibel level of that sound.  If you happen to be at a rock concert, which causes sounds that measure 120-140 dB, you could be risking some hearing damage. When you hear a loud sound, it’s actually little tiny hair cells in your inner ear that are being damaged by the sound. These hairs have the main function of sending messages to the brain so you can hear voices and music, and when they are damaged, the messages cannot be sent properly, resulting in hearing loss.

What does it mean?

Decibel - the unit used to measure the intensity of sound

Who uses it?

  • Audiologist
  • Linguist
  • Hearing Aid Practitioner
  • Speech language pathologist

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