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June 06, 2003

Sound is expressed in decibels (dB) on a scale that gets geometrically louder as the numbers increase. Researchers with the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders say prolonged exposure to any noise above 90 dB can cause gradual hearing loss. Regular exposure of more than one minute to noises of 110 dB or louder risks permanent hearing loss.

180 - Rocket launch

140 - Rock concerts, firecrackers, jet engine at takeoff

120 - Snowmobiles, ambulance siren, loud cars

110 - Chainsaws

100 - Woodshop background noise

98 - Power drill

96 - Farm tractor

90 - Motorcycle, lawnmower, hairdryer

80 - City traffic noise, phone ringing

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60 - Normal conversation

40 - Refrigerator humming

20 to 30 - Whispered voice

0 - Threshold of normal hearing

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