Kids sitting around a table eating lunch and talking to one another.

Loud noises happen where you might not expect them, from your home kitchen to the school cafeteria.

If the dishwasher is running, you might turn up the volume on a nearby TV to hear it better. Add a blender and a vacuum cleaner, and you might turn up the volume even more. All those noises can put you at risk for hearing loss if you’re not careful.

What sounds can damage your hearing?

Sound is measured in decibels. Any sounds at or over 85 decibels can damage your hearing.

Noise adds up over a lifetime. If you are often exposed to loud sounds, your risk for permanent damage grows over time. Even a single but long-lasting or extremely loud event can cause damage.

To protect your hearing, try not to be around sounds at or above 100 decibels for more than 15 minutes. If the noise is at or above 110 decibels, try to move far away from the noise in less than a minute. Here are the decibel levels of common sounds:

A bookmark with cartoon pictures of a fireworks show, jet taking off, ambulance with the siren on, girl listening to music on a device with headphones, boy catching a baseball with a baseball glove, musician playing loud music, man riding a motorcycle, lawnmower, boy and girl watching a movie in a movie theater, woman and child on the beach speaking to each other, and boy whispering in another boy’s ear.

  • Pin drop: 0 decibels
  • Whisper: 30 decibels
  • Refrigerator: 40 decibels
  • Normal conversation: 60 decibels
  • Dishwasher: 75 decibels
  • Heavy city traffic, school cafeteria: 85 decibels
  • Gas lawn mower: 90 decibels
  • Woodshop, snowmobile: 100 decibels
  • Music player at maximum volume: 105 decibels
  • Music concert: 110 decibels
  • Ambulance siren: 120 decibels
  • Jet engine taking off: 140 decibels
  • Firecracker: 140–165 decibels

Hearing loss from too much noise may not be noticeable at first, but the damage can build over time, and it can’t be fixed. Learn how to protect your hearing from noise.

Last Updated Date:

April 23, 2019