Examples of harmful noise

Examples of harmful noise

Have you ever wondered how the everyday sounds around you affect your health? In a world where noise seems to surround us from all sides, it is crucial that you feel are aware of the impact that harmful noise on your well-being. From the buzzing sound of traffic outside your window to the thumping bass at concerts; these sounds go beyond mere background noise.

They carry the risk of hearing damagee entails, a problem that is increasingly common but still receives too little attention.

The World Health Organisation warns that millions of people worldwide are exposed to noise levels that are potentially harmful to their hearing. It is therefore essential to recognise the signs of harmful noise and know how to protect yourself.

The definition of harmful noise

Harmful noise, defined by experts, refers to noise levels that are 85 decibels (dB) or higher and, with prolonged exposure, significantly increase the risk of hearing damage.

By comparison, normal conversations take place around 60 dB, while a jet plane taking off can produce a noise level of around 120 dB. The distinction between ambient and harmful noise therefore lies not only in the volume, but also in the duration of exposure and the possibility of hearing damage.

Ambient noise, on the other hand, includes the everyday sounds that surround us, such as conversations, background music, or the sounds of nature. These sounds rarely reach levels considered harmful unless they intensify to a point where they can affect well-being or health.

It is crucial to recognise these differences and take appropriate action to protect our hearing from exposure to harmful noise.


Examples of harmful noise

In our daily environment, we are exposed to various sources of harmful noise, which can cause hearing damage when exposed for prolonged or intense periods.

  • Industrial noise poses a significant risk in factories and construction sites, where heavy machinery and tools can produce noise levels well above safe limits.
  • Traffic noise, coming from cars, trains and planes, is a constant in the urban environment, where peaks of noise can lead to long-term exposure to harmful decibel levels.
  • Recreational noise is a growing concern, with concerts, festivals and the use of personal audio equipment often reaching sound levels that can damage hearing.
  • Even in domestic life, we are at risk due to domestic noise of appliances such as blenders, hoovers and lawnmowers, all of which can contribute to the cumulative risk of hearing damage.


Below is a table with examples of harmful noise and estimated decibel levels:

Source of noise Estimated Decibel Levels (dB) Possible Consequences
Industrial machinery 90 - 120 dB Hearing damage with prolonged exposure
City traffic 70 - 85 dB Fatigue, stress on prolonged exposure
Train 80 - 100 dB Temporary hearing loss, hearing damage
Aircraft on take-off 120 - 140 dB Immediate risk of hearing damage
Concerts/festivals 100 - 120 dB Temporary to permanent hearing loss
Personal audio equipment 70 - 100 dB Hearing damage with prolonged exposure at high volume
Household appliances 60 - 90 dB Risk of hearing damage with prolonged exposure


man listens to noise

Address the problem at the core, the shop floor

In the workplace, exposure to harmful noise constitutes a significant risk for workers' health, especially in sectors such as industry, construction, and agriculture.

These environments are often the scene of machinery and equipment that produce noise levels well above the safe limit of 85 decibels (dB). Prolonged exposure without adequate hearing protection can lead to irreversible hearing damage.

The effects of exposure to harmful noise can range from temporary symptoms to permanent hearing damage:

  • Hearing loss: The most immediate and obvious consequence is hearing loss, which can either occur suddenly with extreme noise or occur gradually through sustained exposure to high noise levels. This can result in a reduced ability to communicate and function in both professional and personal settings.
  • Tinnitus: A common symptom is tinnitus, or the perception of sound (such as squeaking, rustling or buzzing) without an external sound source present. Tinnitus can be particularly disturbing and affect concentration, sleep, and general well-being.
  • Hyperacusis: Prolonged exposure can also lead to hyperacusis, an increased sensitivity to certain sound frequencies or volumes, making everyday sounds perceived as painful or unbearable.
  • Psychological effects: Besides the physical impact, exposure to harmful noise can also lead to stress, anxiety, and reduced productivity. The constant noise can make it difficult to concentrate and communicate, negatively affecting the working atmosphere and mental health.


Schedule a toolbox at Ronell

In the fight against the invisible threat of noise in the workplace, the choice and proper use of hearing protection is essential. This starts with thorough instruction and raising awareness. Ronell, with its nationwide network of hearing experts, responds to this by organising toolbox meetings on site. These sessions, delivered by experienced consultants, not only increase knowledge about the causes and effects of harmful noise, but also actively engage employees in finding practical solutions. This approach ensures that employees recognise the need for hearing protection and are motivated to apply it consistently.

Specifically, Ronell's toolboxes focus on the construction industry, known for its high noise levels, where the need for effective hearing protection is crucial. Combining knowledge, practicality, and commitment, Ronell offers a new standard in hearing protection that ensures workers' health and safety, and contributes to higher productivity and satisfaction.

Ronell toolboxes cover crucial topics such as how hearing works, causes and consequences of hearing damage, and the importance of preventive measures and proper use of hearing protection. Interactive presentations with recognisable examples engage employees directly, enhancing the learning experience.

Ronell integrates educational sessions with practical activities, such as leak testing and fitting professional hearing protection, so that employees benefit directly from the knowledge gained. This not only emphasises the importance of hearing protection, but also facilitates its implementation for a safe working environment.