Returning to Nature: The Value of Silence

The Dalai Lama once said, that silence is sometimes the best answer. Take a listen to your surroundings right now. There’s surprisingly a lot of sound in urban environments, isnt there?

How loud is too loud?

Continued exposure to noise above 85 dBA (adjusted decibels) over time will cause hearing loss. The volume (dBA) and the length of exposure to the sound will tell you how harmful the noise is. In general, the louder the noise, the less time required before hearing loss will occur.

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According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the maximum exposure time at 85 dBA is eight hours. At 110 dBA, the maximum exposure time is one minute and 29 seconds. If you must be exposed to noise, it is recommended that you limit the exposure time and/or wear hearing protection. A three dBA increase doubles the amount of noise, and halves the recommended amount of exposure time.

The following decibel levels of common noise sources are typical, but will vary. Noise levels above 140dBA can cause damage to hearing after just one exposure.

Points of Reference *measured in dBA or decibels

  • 0 The softest sound a person can hear with normal hearing
  • 10 normal breathing
  • 20 whispering at 5 feet
  • 30 soft whisper
  • 50 rainfall
  • 60 normal conversation
  • 110 shouting in ear
  • 120 thunder

It may be time to plan your next weekend fishing trip or camping trip out in the nice, quiet outdoors.

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