What is a safe dB level? A quiet place is very important!

There are many different answers to the question of “what is a safe dB level?” A safe dB level usually equates to an average of 70 decibels, with an upper limit of 85 decibels.

But what does this mean, exactly?

To put it into perspective, having the TV play in the background at 50 decibels is usually acceptable. If the noise doubles to 100 decibels (the equivalent of someone yelling in your ear), some hearing damage can occur within 15 minutes! Yikes! Double yikes.

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How to measure dB level?

If you are 3 feet away from someone, and they have to raise there voice to be heard, then you are probably to somewhere to loud. This is not a good measure, but if you are able to hear the person, then you are in the safe zone.

How to measure dB level with a sound meter

This will work a lot better if you use a sound meter. There are 2 type of these :

Mobile Phone App, these are the best, as they are on your phone and you can take them with you. These one shown below is very good, called “Sound Meter”

A stand alone device that you will need to buy, called “Sound Meter Plus”, these are the best for professional use.

A sound meter will display the dB level as well as the decibel level that is above or below this range.

How to measure dB level with a sound level meter

This is will work well for long term measurements in places such as offices or factories, where they want readings taken every 10 minutes of how loud something is running. For example: If a machine runs at 85 decibels all day long, then the average level would be 70 decibels after 8 hours. This would be acceptable.

What dB level is harmful?

As the dB level increases, the amount of time that you can stay in an environment without damaging your hearing reduces. The chart below shows the common times that you can stay in an environment before it becomes harmful.

80-85Damage to hearing possible after 2 hours
95Damage to hearing possible after 50 minutes
100Hearing loss after 15 minutes
105–110Hearing loss possible in less than 5 minutes
110Hearing loss in less than 2 minutes
120Pain and ear injury
140–150Pain and ear injury, possible death

What decibel can kill you?

150dB can burst an eardrum, 180-200dB is enough to kill a person in a few seconds. This is why the decibel levels for firearms are so low, and why most limits for noise abatement buildings are between 70-85 decibels

How loud can a human yell?

129dB is the world record for loudness of human vocal sound.


Ear Protection

You will need ear protection if you are exposed to noise above 90 decibels for more that 15 minutes.

The most common types of ear protection are:

Ear plugs are very cheap and popular, they have to be removed for swimming, showers and sleeping. Ear muffs are also very popular among workers and people who want to prevent the sound from hitting them directly. They block the sound, making it impossible for you to hear anything but the sound that you put in there. They can be expensive however, up to $100 for a pair of large ear muffs.

Rigid Foam Ear Plugs, these are a single insert type of ear piece. These are designed to go in the ear canal but not all brands fit all people. These do not fit over ear canal sensors, if you have them.

Closed Cell Foam Ear Plugs, these again are a single insert but with some sort of silicone liner around the foam pad. The most common type for noise work is called the “earplug”. This is not for everyone and can be uncomfortable to wear for longer than 15 minutes at a time .


There is a safe dB level, which is around 70 decibels, and at 80 decibels you will need to wear ear protection. Knowing your safe dB level is important for your health. A good way to remember this is by thinking that if you can hear the sound, it is too loud. If you can’t hear someone when they talk to you then it isn’t too loud.


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Experience : Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

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