Noise can adversely affect human health

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by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

When a prominent public health leader like UCLA’s Jonathan Fielding, MD MPH MA MBA summarizes the adverse impacts of noise on health and quality of life, it appears that noise is finally getting the attention it deserves.

My only quibble with what Dr. Fielding wrote is that he states, “a few hours of exposure to 85 decibels noises will likely damage your hearing.” The World Health Organization actually recommends only one hour of exposure to 85 A-weighted decibels (dBA)* to prevent hearing loss. That’s because the only evidence-based safe noise exposure level to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is a time-weighted average of 70 decibels for 24 hours, and after one hour at 85 dBA it’s impossible to average 70 dB for the day.

Let’s hope that those in Congress and government offices in Washington, and at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, heed Dr. Fielding’s call for government action to make America quieter.

*A-weighting measures the frequencies heard in human speech.

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