Crowds roar as 10,000-pound machines sail through the air over demolished cars and mounds of dirt. Tractor pulls and giant engines delivering 1,500 horsepower race and screech in and out of clouds of dust. It’s what fans of monster truck rallies enjoy, and families attend these events in the thousands all across the country. But what do monster truck rallies mean for your hearing?
Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) once measured the noise level at a monster truck rally [PDF | 346 KB] and found that the spectators were exposed to average noise levels from 95 to 100 A-weighted decibels (dBA). Noise-induced hearing loss is associated with loud sounds, how close you are to the noise, and how long you are exposed to it. While sounds at or below 70 dBA are generally considered safe, exposure to sounds that are 85 dBA or louder can damage your hearing and put you at risk for noise-induced hearing loss.
To prevent hearing loss from noise at monster truck rallies and other loud events, everyone in your family should wear hearing protection. Earplugs or earmuffs let your family enjoy the fun while reducing the exposure to harmful noise. Earplugs come in a variety of styles, some of which are available at drugstores. Some earplugs are made for louder sound levels than others. Earmuffs look like wireless headphones and adjust to fit over your ears. Earmuffs can cost more than earplugs, but they are more durable and easier for young children to put on correctly. You can find earmuffs at sporting goods or hardware stores.
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