This is just some of the noise that i’m
exposed to. And that doesn’t include the progressive
rock my neighbors listen to every single morning. All this noise is really annoying, but … Hearing loss is the fourth highest cause of
disability across the world and it’s expected to get much worse. In the US alone, one in four adults show signs
of noise-induced hearing loss. One of the main reasons behind that is all
the noise that’s around us every single day. According to the Environmental Protection
Agency, the best way to protect your hearing is to limit noise levels to 70 decibels. And experts agree that continued exposure
to noise above 85 dBA will eventually harm your hearing. If you’re curious about the noise levels around
you, decibel readers like this one tell you exactly how much noise you’re being exposed
to. This one’s actually fine. I ride the subway for hours everyday and it’s
really, really loud. But putting in my headphones doesn’t really help. Smartphones cranked up to maximum sound are
about 100 decibels. This bar is 105 decibels and according to
the World Health Organization that could damage your hearing in less than an hour. This chart shows that the louder the noise,
the less exposure it takes to potentially damage your hearing. For example, a boiler room is about 95 decibels,
so if you hung out in one for 4 hours you would not only be a f***ing psycho, but you
would expose yourself to hearing damage as well. One of the worst things about hearing loss
is that ear damage is irreversible. Most of us are born with something like 16,000
little hair cells in our ears, and these hair cells act as sound detectors. So when sound waves pass into our ears, they
send a signal up to our brain, and then our brain decodes the sound. But the brain’s interpretation is only as
good as the signal it receives from the ear. And when the hair cells in the ear have been
damaged, the brain can’t detect the sound or the sound is distorted. You can think about the hair cells like grass,
when you’re walking through a field and you walk over blades of grass they bounce
back after a few minutes. But when you walk through that field enough
times you eventually create a path and the same thing happens with the hair cells in
your ears. When loud sounds pass into the ears and at
high enough intensity they bend those hair cells, and they can bounce back during a recovery
period. But with enough noise over enough time those
hair cells get permanently damaged or destroyed. When it comes to help from the government,
I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that in the early 1970s, President Richard Nixon
passed the Noise Control Act, which recognized Americans’ right to a quiet environment. The bad news is that in 1981 President Ronald
Reagan came along and essentially shut down the effort and left local governments to fend
for themselves. The problem with that is that local governments
relied on federal funding to tackle noise problems. So, yeah, you might be on your own on this
one, but there are ways you can prevent noise induced hearing loss. You can wear noise canceling headphones or
foam earplugs in loud environments like the subway or on airplanes. You can limit the amount of time you’re
exposed to loud sounds and move further away from the source of the noise. You can go into the settings and set a maximum volume on your phone
to prevent playing your music too loud. So, yeah the problem is bad, but you don’t
have to take it lying down. One of my favorite discoveries had been this app called SoundPrint, which allows users to submit their decibel readings in bars, restaurants, and cafes. And I’ve been using it to avoid really loud places.

100 thoughts on “How noise pollution is ruining your hearing”

  1. 25% of adults in the US show signs of hearing loss. Vox science reporter Julia Belluz explains the steps you can take to prevent it:

  2. since trump destroyed the EPA with Scott "fossil fuels" Pruit cough cough who sued the epa 14 times. We should get a progressive president to create a new agency call the Health/Environmental well being agency, we could create this with the new green deal.

  3. I stick earbuds in my ears with chill music on as low as possible. I can hear others in noisy environments, I get a pleasant ambience and my hearing won't get damaged. Living next to a rail road crossing was my inspiration.

  4. Vox, It is important to understand the decibel scale, and the metric used to describe the noise level. The 70 dB(A) limit you outlined is the time-averaged energy equivalent noise level. This is the total accumulated noise level over time, and not the instantaneous noise level for a single event. A decibel meter will NOT output the time-average metric, and is not accurate for use.

  5. So….perhaps if everyone learned sign language this would be less of a problem in some situations?

    now I want to learn sign language and where ear plugs all the time….

  6. WARNING!!! LOUD SHRILL NOISE STARTS AT 3:35!!!!! Thanks fer deafening me at the end by turning up the dB for the advert,,, or whatever I immediately navigated away from!!! Hope it wasn't important.

  7. try being a veteran and be taken seriously when you bring up your hearing disabilities… utterly discouraging.

  8. those dBA apps are horrendously unreliable and should only be used for relative measurements using the same device. Invest a few hundred dollars and actually get useful measurements in your reporting. "The question of how accurate, for want of a better description, a noise measurement app could be using an internal microphone has been discussed at length. One paper showed that using the same app across a number of different devices and in a controlled environment gave differences of between -28dB(A) and +10dB(A) when compared to a reference sound level meter."

  9. i've noticed about earplugs in a subway that although the whole loudness deacreses, the low frequencies become louder or just more recognizable so I feel worse with them. maybe its only in the Moscow subway where tonnels are narrow compared with the New York's one.

  10. This is really interesting! But also, vox bro, get some gap fillers. Your tattoos, which could be quite cool, look like you've covered yourself in stickers. You're welcome! ;P

  11. This is why I use musician air plugs on the subway and in bars! Works great but people think you're funny.

  12. I'm not convinced that hair cells can't be restored. I don't understand hearing as much as a human hearing expert with a PhD or something like that, but I think that a slow natural hearing recovery is possible with the right technology and patience.

  13. Well I mean, if you live in a big city, haha. Suburbs are kind of loud but cities are beyond ridiculous. I wouldn't mind banning horns on cars though

  14. My work says the apps aren't accurate, so we can't use them as proof that the machines we work on and around are too loud.

  15. Drunk people do stupid things. Well i got drunk in a festival that played electronic music and stand 1 meter in front of big speakers for about 4 hours. One month later i still have loud hiss in my ears. 🍺🔊👂😓

  16. Dear Muslims:

    What's the usage of praying and celebrating eid if y'all gonna make us deaf?

    – sincerely, a girl whose mosques in her neighborhood driving her crazy.

  17. How much decibel has a phone that is cranked up so high so that it's juuust before that hearing damage warning comes up? (I use a Samsung phone)

  18. You forgot to mention tinnitus. People just aren't scared enough of hearing loss to protect their ears. But explain tinnitus to them, and they might take it more seriously. Imagine a high pitch whistle in your head 24/7…for the rest of your life. Not fun. Protect your dang ears.

  19. The main reason I show signs of hearing loss is because I am a idiot and forget to turn my volume down after listening to music.

  20. My roommate alone is responsible for the half of the noises in our city. 90% of those created by his door shutting habits.

  21. Crazy irony: the guy who said the most feared words in the English language were "I'm from the government and I'm here to help" killed the EPA Office of Noise Abatement and Control. (:-( ONAC could have imposed noise limits on cars, trucks, motorcycles, buses, subways, consumer products and so much more… Alas, ruthless thuglicans killed the U.S. soundscape for generations. (:-(

  22. 1:19) That's is true and false. While Smartphones can emit 100-115 Decibels,(The True part), your headphones may not. If your headphones are rared at 80 Decibels, no matter how much that phone pushes 115 Decibels, those snazzy headphones of yours still can only output 80 Decibels. Key rule though, Headphones are generally safer than earbuds, which are inserted into the ear canal.

  23. Yeah it’s avoidable for the most part but all it takes is for just one random loud enough sound to start damaging your ears over time , which is really imposible to avoid depending on the circumstances if the sound happens out of no where . Really hard to avoid this kind of hearing loss overall just hope science could fix this in the next 20 + years

  24. I've gotten in the habit of trying to take earplugs with me everywhere I go. FWIW there are more expensive ones out there (around $20/pair but they last for a good long while) that are designed to block out louder sounds but let in things like conversation.

  25. Loud music causes hearing loss but music only sounds enthralling when its loud thats ridiculous we cant even enjoy music in these stressful world

  26. Man tell me about it. I've studied at a boarding school for 2 years and I can feel my hearing being worse after those years. The other students would always party with boomboxes and speakers they had modified to go beyond their standard limit pretty much e Rey other day. Heck some mornings I got woken up by these dudes playing music so loudly at 5pm so I downloaded one of these apps telling the decibel level and just outside the door to my room, it was at 130-137db and that was 2 stories above where the speakers were located! And I had to experience that day in and day out. It was hellish!

  27. I traveled a lot – learned that hotels and hallways with kids running in
    them and louder ambient noises not like home were messing with a good
    nights sleep. I experimented with different ear plugs and found that
    Flents "Quiet Please" use once or twice and toss works wonders all night
    long. Had a sump pump in the basement at home directly under the
    master bedroom. The pump back-check valve thump when it rained annoyed
    me as it was different. I started using the ear plugs at home. Now
    decades later, I wont sleep without them – anywhere. I buy these in a
    bulk container.

    The Bose noise canceling headphones were perfect
    for flight (I began to loathe the open cabin sound of airplanes and
    airports have little noise of need – I set alarms on my phone for
    flights so I know when to check flight display monitors). I use these
    for hours daily with my Ipad and listen to Channels of interest – even
    in the car.

    Its like finding out that silence or good control of sound is preferential almost always.

    I also find that there is a slowing down effect – so focus is
    intentional. I can listen to concentration music specifically on
    yourtube that permit me full simple and deliberate focus on the issue at
    hand and I deal with things on time and efficiently. Its literally
    like finding a vane of pure gold.

    A few hints… Quiet please
    by Flents are good for one or two uses – I buy in a large container very
    cost effectively. Buy a small supply at first form the drug store.
    Only the Bose has an elastomer oval pod that fits my ear better than the
    common circle buds. I find circular buds to hurt when wearing over an
    hour. Keep them clean daily with ZEISS Wipes (used for eye glasses) –
    buy in bulk. They don't scratch glasses either.

  28. This could be a far longer video. Noise disrupts sleep and induces stress even if you're unaware of it. Noise pollution disrupts wildlife as well.

  29. I love how Vox found a way to politicize hearing loss. It isn't the national government's job to control how loud things are. That SHOULD be up to local communities or individual businesses. I'm with Regan on this one (and most other things, too).

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