New York City Subways & Hearing Loss: Is There a Correlation?
In 2006, a highly discussed study of transit noise in large cities, mainly New York, measured the volume of noise caused by buses, trains, and subways. Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health concluded that the level of noise caused by these means of transportation exceed public health recommendations, and would most likely cause permanent hearing loss if one was exposed to large amounts. The World Health Organization as well as the EPA set a worldwide limit of 45 minutes of exposure to 85 decibels as the average noise level in subway tunnels. It turns out that 60% of subway platforms exceed this high level. Inside subway cars the noise level is even higher, with 2/3 of cars measured reaching 90 decibels.
Experts suggest wearing earplugs or even earmuffs to cut noise levels… but really, who is going to wear a set of earmuffs in the dead July heat? Small earplugs seem to be the smarter solution. Headphones however, especially small earbuds can increase damage caused to eardrum in addition to the loud noise caused by the subway.
Routine hearing checkups can help monitor hearing loss and can be a very useful tool in preventing significant damage. Check with your doctor about an annual hearing check at your physical, and download one of the various “hearing check” apps available on iPhones and Androids. … Remember, prevention is the best medicine, especially when it comes to your hearing.