Learn more about noise-induced hearing impairment and what you can do to prevent it.
Approximately 30 million workers are exposed to hazardous levels of noise on the job. Another 9 million are at risk for hearing loss from other agents such as solvents and metals.
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the delicate hair cells found in the inner ear. These are small sensory cells that convert the sounds we hear (sound energy) into electrical signals sent to the brain. Once damaged, hair cells cannot grow back, resulting in permanent hearing impairment.
Although hearing loss is a common effect of aging, some Americans are starting to lose their hearing earlier in life due to exposure to noise. Noise-induced hearing loss is 100 percent preventable.
What is the cost of hearing loss? When you lose your hearing, there is a loss to your quality of life. Untreated hearing loss may:
- Strain relationships with family, friends, and/or co-workers
- Stop you from doing the things you used to enjoy
- Impact your earning power
- Reduce your ability to understand what people are saying
How loud is too loud? The loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dB). Noise-induced hearing impairment can be caused by prolonged exposure to any noise over 85 dB. The infographic below shows the dB levels of common sounds.