Listen Up or Lose It

Listen Up or Lose It

Listen Up or Lose It: Preventing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

The Recording Academy’s Charity MusiCares® and Other Organizations Promote Hearing Health

Loud Rock Concert

Loud Rock Concert

PRS/ASCAP troubadour Frank Turner encourages you to #RespectYourEars at a MusiCares event

From the tunes blaring through your earbuds, to the roar of traffic, airplanes and other ambient noises, to the blast of sound at concerts, parties, movies, theaters and even retail outlets, the message is loud and clear: we live in an increasingly noisy world. Though it’s popular to “turn it up,” consistent overexposure to loud noise is damaging. Approximately 15% of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69 have hearing loss that may have been caused by noise exposure,1 and music creators are four times more likely to suffer from hearing damage that’s 100% preventable.2 Musicians are almost 60% more likely to suffer from tinnitus,3 the sensation of hearing phantom sound commonly described as “ringing” and attributed to damaging noise exposure.

Listen Up Or Lose It – Buy Your Earplugs Now

No matter their preferred style and genre, all music creators and fans can be harmed by noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Musicians have a much higher rate of hearing issues because damage results from sound volume and duration.4 According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), hearing loss begins with long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels. As a symphonic orchestra reaches 120 decibels to 137 decibels and a full-throttle rock concert tops 150 decibels, there is an obvious problem. Loud sounds can damage microscopic hair cells that line the inner ear, known as stereocilia. Those hair cells don’t grow back, so the loss is permanent, according to the NIDCD. In many people, this leads to muffled or distorted sounds or the need to use hearing aids to amplify sound.

Ironically, NIHL is totally preventable with proper hearing protection, yet many music creators are either unaware of preventive measures, or choose not to take the necessary steps. Some of the inaction stems from the cultures within musical genres. Band and orchestral artists have similar rates of hearing loss due to consistent overexposure to noise in rehearsals and concerts, yet band members are significantly less likely to perceive risk or use protective equipment. Among band types, a 2016 study found that pipe band musicians had the highest incidence of hearing loss, greatest awareness of risk, and highest rates of earplug and screen use. In contrast, brass band players demonstrated poor risk awareness and a reluctance to use protective equipment.5 When it comes to rock, a 2015 study found hearing loss in 37.8% of rockers. Among Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, 60% have some sort of hearing loss, according to Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (H.E.A.R.).

“Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem. I’ve had tinnitus for about ten years, and since I started protecting my ears it hasn’t got any worse – touch wood. But I wish I’d thought about it earlier.” – PRS/ASCAP songwriter Chris Martin, Coldplay

The key step music professionals must take to protect their hearing is to wear protective earplugs. The use of hearing protection, in particular custom-fitted earplugs, has a preventive effect, but very few people apply them consistently. To raise awareness for hearing health and change the culture of the industry, several A-list rockers have begun to publically advocate for hearing health in the music industry, including Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Chris Martin, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Stanley, Sting, Pete Townshend and Neil Young. Organizations such as H.E.A.R. provide free earplugs at rock concerts and festivals for musicians and fans.

Top Five Ways to Protect Your Hearing

  1. Avoid prolonged exposure to loud noises
  2. Turn down the volume – headphones, mix quietly in the studio, etc
  3. Wear good quality ear plugs
  4. Use noise-canceling headphones.
  5. Get regular hearing checkups

Listen Up Or Lose It – Buy Your Earplugs Now

Organizations such as H.E.A.R. target musicians and fans in the specific genre of rock, butMusiCares,® a charity of The Recording Academy®, works with all music people, regardless of genre or occupation within the industry, to ensure their hearing safety and wellbeing through preemptive measures and free treatment. The nonprofit organization hosts hearing clinics that offer screenings, education, and fittings for custom ear plugs free of charge. More than 60 hearing clinics were held in 55 cities across the country over the course of MusiCares’ current fiscal year. MusiCares has also collaborated with The Recording Academy’s P&E wing to provide additional focus on the hearing issues specific to producers and engineers. In addition, this spring, the rock band Pearl Jam developed a unique partnership with MusiCares to provide custom branded ear plugs to attendees at each of their national spring tour dates.

The MusiCares hearing clinics are part of the organization’s Healthy Essentials clinics, which allow members of the music community to receive a full spectrum of primary and preventative services provided by medical professionals on a regular basis. The Healthy Essentials initiative encompasses everything from flu shot clinics and dental care to hearing health programs. For music people interested in attending a hearing health or another clinic, check the MusiCares website for upcoming events. Interested participants must have at least five years music industry experience, and complete a brief application to qualify through MusiCares. Clinics are held across the United States at various times throughout the year.

Bikers modifying motorcycles leading to more noise pollution

Bikers modifying motorcycles leading to more noise pollution

Motorbikers are modifying their motorcycle  exhausts leading to yet more noise pollution

For Naresh Patel, guessing the exact time at night is no big deal. The moment he hears ‘thud, thud, thud, thud,” he knows well it is 10.30 pm. It’s his neighbour returning home and deafening sound from his bike announces his arrival.

Patel may not be the lone person experiencing the noise pollution. Modified motorbikes with extra exhaust pipes or silencers are become nightmare for many in the city. Such vehicles not only make deafening noise, but also emit toxic chemicals into the air.

Even fellow commuters on the road do not feel safe when the bikers ridding such bikes zoom past them making thundering sound and making them go off-balance.

Sources say that youngsters who want to show off their mean machines are opting for bike modification. And thriving, but illegal, bike modification market in the city is acting as a catalyst for increasing the number of bikes facilitating the influx of with ‘loud silencers’ on the road.

Who are their customers? They are the youngsters wanting to show off their vehicles, says mechanics.

“Here, Enfield Bullet, Plusar and Yamaha bikes are a rage among youngsters. The modification includes new shapes to the outer body and changing the exhaust pipes of the bikes to provide a macho ‘thud,thud’ noise,” says Paresh, a bike modifier.

Under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, any alteration to the factory model is illegal. “Any change that increases the weight of the vehicle by 10% can be done with the consent of the manufacturer and the regional transport office. Changes to exhaust pipe cannot be allowed,” said a regional transport officer.

Removing the catalytic converter, a component fitted to the exhaust pipe is the easiest, way to increase the thump.

“This type of silencer is called a free flow exhaust. It produces more sound but toxic gases, filtered by the catalytic converter are directly released into the air,” said an expert from SVNIT college.

The city police has already started a drive to catch the youngsters riding on the modified bikes with loud silencers and deafening horns.

“Every day around 15 to 20 youngsters are fined for riding haphazardly on the roads. We also check the modifications and issue them with separate challans. On weekends, we organize drives in the areas like Piplod, Vesu, Dumas road, etc, for drag racers,” said a senior police officer.

Independence Day celebrations brings food, family, fireworks and damaged hearing

Independence Day celebrations brings food, family, fireworks and damaged hearing

Independence Day celebrations include food, family and fireworks and damaged hearing

fireworks-damaged-hearing-1However, those bright displays of chemical reactions cause loud booms and shrieking noises that could cause damaged hearing.

“The Excalibur probably makes the loudest noise,” Boom Town Fireworks seller Eddie Spears said. “Most of the noise is in the air but it’s still really, really loud. The other ones on a scale of one to 10 are like a five. This one is like a nine.

Dr. Christopher Spankovich said some the fireworks can compare to being at a gun range or the roar of a jet engine.

“It really has to do with the level. It’s (at a) highly significant level (at) 140 to 180 decibels. It’s a brief signal so we consider it a compulsive sound,” Spankovich said.

Don’t Damage Your Hearing, Buy Your Earplugs Here From Amazon

No matter how brief it may be, experts still say it can cause damage to your hearing.

fireworks-damaged-hearing-2

fireworks-damaged-hearing

A test using a decibel meter at the Thompson Air Force Base found a C-17 airplane taxing at the Thompson Field registered between 93 and 95 decibels.

The Saturn Missiles firework topped at over a 100 decibels during the test.

Airmen on the field are required to wear two sets of ear protection, but people at home launching fireworks typically do not shield their ears from the damaging sound.

“If you don’t follow the written guidelines the Air Force provides, you are at risk for hearing loss. It can be minimal or complete hearing loss,” Mississippi National Guardsmen Angel Padilla said.

Don’t Damage Your Hearing, Buy Your Earplugs Here From Amazon

Spankovich said fireworks damaged his hearing.

fireworks-damaged-hearing-3

fireworks-damaged-hearing

“I actually incurred a hearing loss from setting off fireworks in one ear,” he said.

Once the hearing is lost it is permanent and his hearing continues to worsen with time, Spankovich said

Experts have some advice to follow before you light firecrackers to celebrate Independence Day.

“Keep the (fireworks at a) distance (away), utilize hearing protection devices and that’s going to be your best way of diminishing risk. The other option is finding fireworks that produce less of a bang,” he said.

Also remember once the fireworks are used and are no longer active, make sure you place them in a bucket of water to soak for several hours

Don’t Damage Your Hearing, Buy Your Earplugs Here From Amazon

However, those bright displays of chemical reactions cause loud booms and shrieking noises that could damage your hearing.

“The Excalibur probably makes the loudest noise,” Boom Town Fireworks seller Eddie Spears said. “Most of the noise is in the air but it’s still really, really loud. The other ones on a scale of one to 10 are like a five. This one is like a nine.”

Dr. Christopher Spankovich said some the fireworks can compare to being at a gun range or the roar of a jet engine.

“It really has to do with the level. It’s (at a) highly significant level (at) 140 to 180 decibels. It’s a brief signal so we consider it a compulsive sound,” Spankovich said.

No matter how brief it may be, experts still say it can cause damage to your hearing.

A test using a decibel meter at the Thompson Air Force Base found a C-17 airplane taxing at the Thompson Field registered between 93 and 95 decibels.

The Saturn Missiles firework topped at over a 100 decibels during the test.

Airmen on the field are required to wear two sets of ear protection, but people at home launching fireworks typically do not shield their ears from the damaging sound.

Don’t Damage Your Hearing, Buy Your Earplugs Here From Amazon

“If you don’t follow the written guidelines the Air Force provides, you are at risk for hearing loss. It can be minimal or complete hearing loss,” Mississippi National Guardsmen Angel Padilla said.

Spankovich said fireworks damaged his hearing.

“I actually incurred a hearing loss from setting off fireworks in one ear,” he said.

Once the hearing is lost it is permanent and his hearing continues to worsen with time, Spankovich said

Experts have some advice to follow before you light firecrackers to celebrate Independence Day.

“Keep the (fireworks at a) distance (away), utilize hearing protection devices and that’s going to be your best way of diminishing risk. The other option is finding fireworks that produce less of a bang,” he said.

Also remember once the fireworks are used and are no longer active, make sure you place them in a bucket of water to soak for several hours.