Cover your ears on the Fourth of July

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Fireworks are as much a part of America’s Fourth of July celebration as hamburgers on the barbecue. But a prominent U.S. health organization is warning the public to cover their ears or risk hearing damage.

Boys Town’s Continuum of Child and Family Services reminds revelers that fireworks produce a sound output that is in the 150 to 175 decibel range.

According to the organization’s news release, there are two things to note when considering whether or not fireworks will have the potential to cause hearing loss: First is the distance a person is from the sound source. Similar to the way a ripple from a stone being thrown into the water diminishes further and further away from the splash, sound is less likely to affect your hearing the further you are positioned from the firework explosion. The second thing to consider is how loud the firework actually is. The World Health Organization recommends that adults not be exposed to more than 140 decibels of peak sound pressure. For children, the recommendation is 120 decibels. If you are dealing with a firework that explodes at 170 decibels, you would have to stand 15 to 20 meters away before you are at a safe limit.

Children would have to stand 50 to 60 meters away from that same firework. Infants should not be exposed to fireworks, because they generally experience the greatest amount of sound pressure.

“You can think about watering trees,” said Nathan Williams, AuD., Audiologist at Boys Town Ear, Nose and Throat Institute. “When you put your thumb over the mouth of the hose, the diameter of the opening is smaller and the pressure of the water is greater. The diameter of a child’s ear canal is smaller, and thus the sound pressure built up in a child’s ear canal is great, resulting in a perceived louder sound by the child. ” Boys Town’s integrated youth care serves more than 500,000 children and families across America.

Source: Boys Town's