According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations in the UK, if you are working in an environment that gives you a daily/weekly average exposure of 85 decibels (dB), your employer must provide you with hearing protection. So, as a rule of thumb… you are considered to be within safe levels if you are exposed to a sound of less than 85 dB. Above 85 dB, hearing protection is required. If you are unprotected, we can expect a higher risk of hearing damage i.e. hearing loss and/or tinnitus after 8 hours of exposure. Every 3 dB you go up, you must half the time you are exposed unprotected to consider yourself at risk. The sound of a blender is about 88 dB so we can expect that some hearing damage can occur if you are exposed to this level of sound for 4 hours or more.
Let’s take a look at the London Underground. This transmit system has been serving the people of London since 1863, however, over the last decade, the number of concerns about the levels of noise on the trains have increased dramatically. Let’s take a look why..
Doctor Joseph Sollini from the UCL Ear Institute analysed data collected by the BBC on noise levels of many London Underground lines. Noise levels were found to exceed 105 dB across the Jubilee, Bakerloo, Victoria and Central Lines. In fact, between Bethnal Green and Liverpool Street (a journey that I personally take, myself), levels reached 110 dB. This is equivalent to the level of a rock concert.
Remember, the HSE regulations refer to average exposure, which means that noise exposure should be treated in an accumulative fashion. In other words, you must consider your commute to work, your day at work, your commute back home, and any evening activities in your daily average exposure. Therefore, it is highly recommended that hearing protection is worn to reduce the risk of hearing loss and/or tinnitus due to noise levels on the Tube.