Whether you’re attending a sporting event indoors or outdoors, it’s important to carry your hearing protection in case the crowds or cars get too noisy. While you can’t always walk away from the event or the cheering fans, you can use hearing protection in any place that’s too noisy.
To some people, loud noise in a sports stadium, race track, or monster truck rally is just part of the fun. But if you enjoy noisy spectator sports, don’t forget your hearing protection. Even outdoor sports events, such as car races, can be very noisy. Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have measured sound at the race car track up to 140 A-weighted decibels (dBA) in the pits, with levels at 96 dBA in the stands and 114 dBA for drivers. Other sporting events can also be noisy. In 2012, Super Bowl noise crept up to 107 dBA, as measured in the stadium by fans using free smartphone apps at NIOSH's request.
While sounds at or under 70 dBA are generally considered safe, regular exposure to sounds at or above 85 dBA puts you at risk for permanent hearing loss. For instance, if you don't wear hearing protectors, you can damage your hearing in less than 15 minutes when sounds are 100 dBA or louder, and in 2 minutes when sounds are 110 dBA or louder. If you attend any sports event, whether inside or outside, consider how loud it’s going to be and pack your hearing protection.