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Common Sounds

Decibel (dB) Comparisons

This decibel (dBA) table compares some common sounds and shows how they rank in potential harm to hearing. In many industries, workers are exposed to dangerous noise levels. This is particularly true in the construction, lumber, mining, steel and textile industries. Use this chart to estimate the decibel level of your AC unit.

SOUNDNOISE LEVEL (dBA)EFFECT
SOUNDJet Engines (Near)NOISE LEVEL (dBA)140EFFECT
SOUNDShotgun FiringNOISE LEVEL (dBA)130EFFECT
SOUNDJet Takeoff (100-200 Ft.)NOISE LEVEL (dBA)130EFFECT
SOUNDRock Concert (Varies)NOISE LEVEL (dBA)110-140EFFECTThreshold of pain (125 dB)
SOUNDOxygen TorchNOISE LEVEL (dBA)121EFFECT
SOUNDDisco/Boom BoxNOISE LEVEL (dBA)120EFFECTThreshold of sensation (120 dB)
SOUNDThunderclap (Near)NOISE LEVEL (dBA)120EFFECT
SOUNDStereo (Over 100 Watts)NOISE LEVEL (dBA)110-125EFFECT
SOUNDSymphony OrchestraNOISE LEVEL (dBA)110EFFECTRegular exposure of more than 1 minute risks permanent hearing loss (over 100 dB)
SOUNDPower Saw (Chain Saw)NOISE LEVEL (dBA)110EFFECTRegular exposure of more than 1 minute risks permanent hearing loss (over 100 dB)
SOUNDJackhammerNOISE LEVEL (dBA)110EFFECTRegular exposure of more than 1 minute risks permanent hearing loss (over 100 dB)
SOUNDSnowmobileNOISE LEVEL (dBA)105EFFECT
SOUNDJet Fly-over (1000 Ft.)NOISE LEVEL (dBA)103EFFECT
SOUNDElectric Furnace AreaNOISE LEVEL (dBA)100EFFECTNo more than 15 minutes of unprotected exposure recommended (90-100 dB)
SOUNDGarbage Truck/Cement MixerNOISE LEVEL (dBA)100EFFECTNo more than 15 minutes of unprotected exposure recommended (90-100 dB)
SOUNDFarm TractorNOISE LEVEL (dBA)98EFFECTNo more than 15 minutes of unprotected exposure recommended (90-100 dB)
SOUNDNewspaper PressNOISE LEVEL (dBA)97EFFECT
SOUNDSubway, Motorcycle (25 Ft.)NOISE LEVEL (dBA)88EFFECTVery annoying
SOUNDLawnmower, Food BlenderNOISE LEVEL (dBA)85-90EFFECTLevel at which hearing damage begins after 8 hours (85 dB)
SOUNDRecreational Vehicles, TVNOISE LEVEL (dBA)70-90EFFECT
SOUNDDiesel Truck (40 Mph, 50 Ft.)NOISE LEVEL (dBA)84EFFECT
SOUNDAverage City Traffic NoiseNOISE LEVEL (dBA)80EFFECTAnnoying; interferes with conversation; constant exposure may cause damage
SOUNDGarbage DisposalNOISE LEVEL (dBA)80EFFECTAnnoying; interferes with conversation; constant exposure may cause damage
SOUNDWashing MachineNOISE LEVEL (dBA)78EFFECT
SOUNDDishwasherNOISE LEVEL (dBA)75EFFECT
SOUNDVacuum CleanerNOISE LEVEL (dBA)70EFFECTIntrusive; interferes with telephone conversation
SOUNDHair DryerNOISE LEVEL (dBA)70EFFECTIntrusive; interferes with telephone conversation
SOUNDNormal ConversationNOISE LEVEL (dBA)50-65EFFECT
SOUNDQuiet OfficeNOISE LEVEL (dBA)50-60EFFECTComfortable (under 60 dB)
SOUNDRefrigerator HummingNOISE LEVEL (dBA)40EFFECT
SOUNDWhisperNOISE LEVEL (dBA)30EFFECTVery quiet
SOUNDBroadcasting StudioNOISE LEVEL (dBA)30EFFECT
SOUNDRustling LeavesNOISE LEVEL (dBA)20EFFECTJust audible
SOUNDNormal BreathingNOISE LEVEL (dBA)10EFFECT
SOUNDNOISE LEVEL (dBA)0EFFECTThreshold of normal hearing (1000-4000 Hz)

Since the sensitivity of the ear to sound is not the same for all frequencies, weighting or attenuating filters are included in the sound level meter’s circuits to simulate the ears’ response. A noise level meter gives an instantaneous measurement of the noise present, but cannot measure the duration of the exposure. To measure the amount of noise a person is exposed to over a period of time, a “dosimeter~ or an integrated sound level meter must be used. Sources for above include the American Medical Association and the Canadian Hearing Society of Ontario. Decibel table developed by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892. January 1990.

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