Twenty-six million Americans — including men, women and kids of all ages — have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), as reported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. NIHL is a temporary or permanent reduction in hearing ability caused by exposure to a dangerous sound level – 85 decibels and up. To put that in context, repeated exposure to heavy traffic in the city can reach this level, while guns, motorcycles and fireworks all have decibel levels in excess of 120. Fortunately, there are numerous hearing protection devices are that can be purchased at sporting goods and hardware stores that can help save your hearing in these situations.
Noise reduction rating system.
In the U.S., all products are given a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) based on a standard system for assessing the amount of protection they give the wearer. NRR is based on a decibel scale of 0 to 33 with the level of protection increasing with the rating number.
Deciding Between Earmuffs and Earplugs
Electronic earmuffs – Electronic earmuffs are designed to cup the ears with a cushiony insulation, and, although appear similar to regular earmuffs, they are very different. Other models include a built-in 2-way radio system that allows wearers to talk with each other in dangerous working environments. You can even find certain earmuffs that allow you to listen to the radio while you‚Äôre in a noisy location, which is nice when blowing leaves or mowing the lawn.
Electronic earplugs – Electronic earplugs are placed just inside the ear and offer variable protection, which means the level of protection raises or lowers depending upon outside noises. In case of sudden noises, such as gunfire or a crash, the earplugs adjust automatically. Some types of electronic earplugs can allow lower-decibel sounds such as speech to pass while also blocking dangerous noises. Electronic earplugs can be especially valuable in conditions where earmuffs could be too bulky and get in the way.