Human Body

Nerves and Senses

What are some common levels of sound and how do they affect hearing?

Some common levels of sound and their effect on hearing are listed in the following table:

Sound Decibel Level Effect on Hearing
Lowest audible sound Just above 0 None
Rustling leaves 20 None
Quiet library or quiet office 30–40 None
Normal conversation; 50–60 None
refrigerator; light traffic    
at a distance    
Busy traffic, vacuum cleaner; 70 None
noisy restaurant    
Heavy city traffic; subway; 80–90 Some damage if
shop tools; power lawn mower   continuous for 8 hours
Chain saw 100 Some damage if continuous for 2 hours
Rock concert 110–120 Definite risk of permanent hearing loss
Gunshot 140 Immediate danger of hearing loss
Jet engine 150 Immediate danger of hearing loss
Rocket launching pad 160 Hearing loss inevitable


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