What decibels to look out for at home

Many sounds around our homes and gardens are potentially damaging to our hearing, with certain everyday household appliances emitting noise that can permanently damage one’s hearing.

While most of us are aware that using earphones on high volume could cause damage to our hearing, we aren’t as savvy when it comes to other household appliances.

Listening to any sound at high volume – classed as more than 85 decibels (db) – can cause permanent hearing loss, tinnitus, or both.

Appliances such as a lawnmower could damage hearing, as well as a hair dryer (95db), blender (90db) and vacuum cleaner (85db), which are also household hearing loss culprits that could cause damage if repeatedly exposed to over a prolonged period of time.

Doorbells and electric shavers, which measure 80db on average, are also noises to be mindful of, along with washing machines (75db).

And when it comes to our gardens, using a lawnmower to cut the grass can be particularly detrimental to our hearing, as typically these measure at 110db.

Specsavers audiologist, Orla Walsh, highlighted the issue: “With gigs and festivals cancelled and bars and restaurants closed, it’s easy to think that we are no longer exposing ourselves to loud noises, but this isn’t necessarily the case.

“To put this into context, normal levels of conversation are about 65db and things like concerts can reach 110db, so when using this piece of machinery, it is best practice to wear ear defenders or hearing protection.

“Also, never listen to your music above 60% of full volume. Cancelling out background noise by turning up the volume can cause long-term damage to your hearing and conditions such as tinnitus, which is irreversible.”

She adds: “Sounds are measured on a logarithmic scale, so an increase from 80db to 90db doesn’t mean that the sound has increased by 10% but rather that it has increased tenfold. In other words, a sound at 90db is ten times louder than a sound at 80db.”

While you can’t control the volume on a lot of these appliances, you can reduce your exposure to them by limiting the amount of time you spend using them, particularly important for anything that has a sound level over 105db – anything above this will begin to damage your hearing.