A new study on the epidemiology of firearm and other noise exposures in the United States shows lawnmowers and guns are putting Americans at an increased risk for hearing loss.
Firearms and lawnmowers, specifically, produce deafening levels of noise, and very few users are wearing hearing protection while using these items.
“When exposed to recreational “loud/very loud” noise, only 11.4 percent always used hearing protection, whereas 62.3 percent, or 6.3 million people never used any protection,” according to the study, which was published in “The Laryngoscope,” a medical journal in the field of otolaryngology.
Lawnmowers produce a sound level of around 90dBA, but are often used over a longer period of time. A shotgun can measure in at over 160 dBA in a quick burst of deafening sound.
Any sound above 85dB can cause hearing loss after approximately eight hours of continuous exposure. However, if the noise level is 100dB, one’s hearing could be damaged in as little as 15 minutes, according to the Hear the World Foundation.
Hearing Loss and Gun Use
In January, the Hearing Protection Act, was introduced on Capitol Hill to make purchasing a suppressor – a device attached to the barrel of a firearm that reduces the noise generated by firing – as easy as buying a rifle.
The bill would amend the federal criminal code to preempt state or local laws that tax or regulate firearm silencers.
According to the study, 7.4 million people say they never used hearing protection when using firearms.
“Lifetime exposure to firearm noise was reported by 36.6 percent of adults, 11.5 percent of whom had used firearms in the prior 12 months. Of those, only 58.5 percent always used hearing protection, whereas 21.4 percent never used hearing protection.”
Noise related hearing loss for military personnel is also an issue, as more than 1.9 million American veterans a service-related hearing disability, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
Protecting your hearing
To protect your hearing while mowing the lawn, or at the gun range, it’s a good idea to get some form of ear protection such as ear defenders or ear plugs. Additionally, it is recommended to take acoustic breaks and switch off all sources of noise after being in loud environments or using loud machinery.
“It is not only our hearing that suffers from noise,” according to Hear the World. “Even low noise levels can trigger the release of stress hormones, leading to increased blood pressure. This in turn can lead to aggressive behavior and tensions in interactions with other people, as well as an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and tinnitus. Unwanted sources of noise also prevent relaxation, recovery and sleep and impair concentration and performance, particularly in children.”
If we want to enjoy the sounds of life it’s time we be more active to protect our ears. Make these 10 Small Changes to Save Your Hearing.