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What Did You Say?!

Noise pollution is a serious problem for many people who work around loud equipment every day. Being exposed to excessive sound in high volumes can have lasting psychological and physiological effects on the human body, and therefore, it’s very important to be aware of the varying decibel levels that each product emits during its use. A human being can typically hear between 20 and 20,000 hertz, or between 0 and 140 decibels. A normal conversation occurs around 60 decibels, and sounds above 85 decibels, without proper protection, are powerful enough to begin causing irreversible hearing damage after 1 work day (8 hours). Because of the danger that sound can cause, people working around loud equipment should take the precautions that can preserve your health and hearing.

Working around loud equipment for short and singular periods of time is not dangerous, but prolonged exposure in both short and long term increments, without protection, is where the danger’s at. Decibels measure noise on a logarithmic scale, meaning 10 decibels is 10 times as loud as 0 decibels, and 20 decibels is 20 times as loud as 0 decibels, etc. For notes of comparison, some common sounds are listed below:


  • Wristwatch - 20 decibels
  • Vacuum - 51 decibels
  • Alarm Clock - 80 decibels
  • Car Horn – 100 decibels
  • Firearm – 140 decibels

Without protection, sounds above 100 decibels can cause immediate damage to the ear drum, and sounds above 85 decibels for extended periods of time cause stress, which can ultimately be followed by cardiovascular issues, migraines, and psychological instability like anxiety and neurosis. Protecting yourself involves avoiding intense sound for long periods of time, and if that’s not possible, adapt to the environment by using ear plugs of ear muffs that fit correctly.

An example of an item that is designed to work well while protecting its user is the pro vacuum. It emits 51 decibels on its low setting, about the sound of a humming refrigerator motor. Additionally, there are many smart phone applications available that assist users in tracking how loud all of their equipment is, and most will provide warnings if the noise levels are approaching damaging levels. Paying close attention to how much noise your cleaning tools emit will assist you in your professional cleaning endeavors by preserving your hearing, your sanity, and your overall physical health.


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