NOISE: online database highlights risks to hearing

International Noise Awareness Day 2014

Researchers from the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) have been recording some of the country’s noisier recreational environments and uploaded the results of their efforts to a new website known as the NOISE Database.

The information can be shared with other researchers, policy makers and other people interested in knowing more about the hearing health risks of recreational noise.

NAL researcher Dr Elizabeth Beach who is launching the database at the XXXII World Congress of Audiology this week said the loudness measurements they recorded at various leisure activities have been significant.

“For example at nightclubs, we found the average noise level to be around 97 decibels (dB), so any patron who stays beyond 30 minutes is exceeding the legal workplace limit. That means someone who stays for four hours, as many patrons typically do, is being exposed to eight times the workplace limit,” Dr Beach said. “There are many things which can be done to reduce noise in clubs such as turning the volume down or providing chill out areas where people can take a break. Unfortunately, many venues do not consider these options, with operators citing that patrons like their music loud,” Dr Beach explained.

“However, the tide may be changing. We've recently published some research that suggests many regular nightclub patrons would like noise levels to drop and a study just published in Britain has shown that 70% of students agree that noise levels in nightclubs should be limited to safe volumes.”

Other noisy activities recorded by the NAL researchers included motorsports and music festivals with average noise levels at 99 dB and 94 dB respectively.

The NOISE Database website address is available here.

Source: The HEARing CRC