Noise Pollution: Does it affect your hearing?

We hear a lot about noise pollution on the news and on social media. Let’s find out today if it can affect your hearing…

Not all sound is considered noise pollution. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that any noise above 65 dB can be considered noise pollution. We’ve spoke lots and lots here about how if the noise level begins to exceed 75 dB then it becomes harmful to your hearing. If the level continues to rise and reaches 120 dB or higher, then it could be painful and could also cause permanent damage to your hearing. Interestingly, for a restful night’s sleep, experts recommend that any noise during the night should be kept below 30 dB.

So what are the noises that we would consider as noise pollution?

A busy motorway of traffic on both sides.

Rush hour traffic in downtown Beijing at daytime, China.

Traffic noise: The majority of noise pollution in a city is caused by traffic. Engines and cars beeping can reach very high levels, for example a car beeping its horn can reach 90 dB.

Air traffic noise: Obviously there are less planes than cars, however the noise of a plane engine can exceed 130 dB which far exceeds the recommended listening levels.

Construction noise: There are always roadworks, building sites and resurfacing works going on in towns and cities. This type of construction work often produces very high levels of noise. A pneumatic drill alone can produce noise of up to 110 dB. It has long been re

A busy bar scene through the window from the outside.

A busy bar and restaurant in London, UK.

commended that construction workers who operate noise machinery wear ear protection.

Restaurants, bars and clubs: A good night out can be noisier than you anticipated! Background music and chatter in restaurants, coupled with noise from the kitchen can reach pretty high levels. It goes without saying that if a night ends up in a club, you are going to be exposed to sound levels over 100 dB.

Wildlife: Often the noise created by animals is forgotten about when we talk about noise pollution but if a dog is barking or howling, the noise can reach up to 80 dB. If this continues over a long period of time then it would definitely contribute to noise pollution.


The Noisiest City

There is a lot more noise pollution in large cities than there is in the countryside for obvious reasons. However, people in smaller towns and villages do also experience noise pollution. The world’s noisiest city is Guangzhou in China, followed by New Delhi in India and then Cairo in Egypt. You’ll be pleased to hear that none of the top 10 noisiest places are in Malta.


Noise App notification on Apple Watch.

Noise App notification on Apple Watch.

Apple Watch – Noise App

Apple now have a feature on their Apple Watches which monitors the noise levels around you using its Noise app. It will measure the ambient sound levels around you using its microphone (but not record any sounds) and let you know when the level is too high. You can turn off this feature on your watch if you wish but we think it is a great idea to help keep yourself protected.


Ear Protection

We don’t need to tell you how important it is to wear ear protection when you know you are going to be exposed to very loud noise as we tell you regularly on this blog. Noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs are a great investment! With regards to using headphones or ear buds, some people like to follow the 60/60 rule. This means keeping your device at 60% of its volume and do not listen for longer than 60 minutes at a time.


Noise pollution is a huge problem in major cities. The only advice we can offer is to limit the amount of time you expose to yourself to loud noise. If that isn’t something you can do, you should think about using some ear protection. If you’d like any further advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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