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NOISE, LAWS, & NOISE POLLUTION
Relative Loudness Levels
Sound intensity is measured in dB (decibels) using a sound pressure level (SPL) meter. 0dB represents very soft sound and 140dB represents very loud, perhaps even a painfully loud sound.
The following is a guide for how loud, or quiet certain sounds are (on average).
Law Regarding Acceptable and Elevated Intensity Levels of Noise
The law that determines acceptable and elevated levels of noise in the work place is part of the Occupational Saftey and Health Act (OSHA), originally signed into legislation in 1969 and amended many times over.
The degree of noise exposure is dependent upon how much time one is exposed to a particular level of noise. For example, if a worker is exposed to an average of 90dB of noise, he cannot spend longer than eight hours in that environment without using hearing protection devices. As the average level of noise goes up, the time limit decreases.
While it is well documented that prolonged exposure to loud noise can lead to hearing loss, primarily in the higher frequencies often accompanied with tinnitus (i.e., ringing in the ears), the type of noise is the most important characteristic. Steady noise (like chain saws, lawn mowers, etc.), and very loud impulse noises generated near the ear (such as loud bangs from rifles, fireworks, whistles, etc.) can be much more damaging than what many people think is damaging to the ears - loud music. Music has many intensity fluctuations and research has rarely exhibited a relationship between exposure and predicting hearing loss.
Determine the type of noise you are exposing your ears to and protect your hearing before until it's too late. This is especially true for those of you who use power tools!
RULE OF THUMB: If you are around loud noise for more than 15 minutes or if you begin noticing tinnitus, find some way to protect your hearing.
WHERE ELSE TO LOOK
H.E.A.R. (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers) is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the real dangers of repeated exposure to excessive noise levels which can lead to permanent, and sometimes debilitating, hearing loss and tinnitus.