Public health officials estimate that roughly 26 million people throughout the U.S. are impacted by noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). NIHL is brought on by contact with dangerous sound levels of 85 decibels (dB) or higher, and may be either permanent or temporary. By way of comparison, regular exposure to heavy traffic in cities can reach this decibel level, while guns, fireworks and motorcycles all record decibel levels above 120. The good news is that your community sporting goods and hardware shops likely have a variety of hearing protection devices in stock that will help safeguard your hearing in a large variety of circumstances.
How much protection do you need?
The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is the United States standard rating system for the level of protection provided by a particular device.This rating ranges from 0 to 33 dB with the larger rating providing greater hearing protection.
Earplugs vs. Earmuffs
Electronic earplugs are placed just inside the ear and provide variable protection, which means the level of protection raises or lowers based on outside noises. Earplugs can respond very quickly to shield the wearer against sudden loud noises such as and exploding firework or gunshot. Some types of electronic earplugs can allow lower-decibel sounds including speech to reach the wearer while still blocking dangerous noises. Electronic earplugs are especially valuable in situations where earmuffs could be too bulky and get in the way.
Electronic earmuffs are made to cup the ears with a padded insulation, and, though look similar to regular earmuffs, they are very different. Other types include a 2-way radio system to enable communication between people working in noisy environments. You can even find some that allow you to listen to the radio when you’re in a noisy place, which is great if you’re blowing leaves or mowing the lawn.