by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
Loud sounds damage your ears. That is no secret. Furthermore, the longer you expose your ears to loud sounds, the greater the chances of damage. That is just plain common sense.
What has this got to do with hockey? Canadians (and Americans too) love their hockey games. Unfortunately, the sound levels in hockey arenas often exceed safe levels. Therefore, unless you wear ear plugs, your hearing is at risk.
Just how bad is it? Let’s look at the sound levels observed during the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs between the Edmonton Oilers and the Carolina Hurricanes played in Edmonton, Alberta
During the 3 hour game, noise levels almost never fell into the safe zone (sound levels below 85 dB). In fact, the average sound levels for 3 of those games was 104, 101 and 103 dB respectively. That’s loud! Peak levels recorded when goals were scored topped out at 122 dB. (1) That’s equivalent to a jet plane taking off! At that level, without ear protectors, you risk damage to your ears in just 1/8th of a second!
In these games, it only took 6 minutes to reach the maximum daily allowable noise dose. And remember, this sustained racket went on for 3 hours, not just 6 minutes! Looking at it another way, each person that attended these games exposed their ears at each game to 8100% of their allowable daily noise dose! And you wonder why so many people have hearing losses and ringing in their ears?
Therefore, if you are a hockey fan (or other sports enthusiast for that matter), wear the little foam ear protectors you can get at any drugstore for a couple of bucks. They have a rating of 25 to 30 dB. Wearing these ear protectors will bring the noise level down to below 80 dB where no hearing damage is likely to occur.
$2.00 ear protectors are certainly much cheaper than shelling out $2,000.00 each for the hearing aids you will eventually need if you don’t wear the ear protectors!