Study looks at subway noise damage

June 18, 2009 3:42:55 PM PDT
Step into a subway station, and you're surrounded by sounds, from passing trains to loudspeaker announcements to chatting riders. Now, a new study shows that those noises could do damage."The sound is always terrible," rider Mike Maudlin said. "You have to drown it out somehow, so I get the music going."

"I feel people try to drown out the noise with ear buds," rider Dawn Lim said. "That's just as harmful."

"I'm not at all surprised," rider Gretchen Grant said. "I ride the train all the time. It's loud."

The study, in the August edition of the American Journal of Public Health, looked at noise levels associated with New york City's mass transit system.

Researchers found that it's loud enough for frequent riders to get noise induced hearing loss, or NIHL.

Dr. Simon Parisier, from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, explains.

"As noise gets louder, it becomes more damaging to the ear," he said. "And the amount of time you can spend in noise decreases as noise increases."

The study found subways have the highest average noise levels.

But Dr. Parisier points out that trying to drown out that noise only makes it worse.

"One, turn down the iPods," he said. "Get ear protectors. They're foam protectors and expand and block about 23 percent of noise."

Eyewitness News reporter Carolina Leid used a sound level meter to get an idea of how loud it gets inside, for example, the Union Square subway station.

Doctors say you shouldn't be exposed to more than 80 decibels in a two-and-a-half-hour time period.

A man playing his violin in the tunnel registered 80 decibels on the sound device.

And a passing train read 88.

Another train gave a reading of mroe than 90 decibels. But doctors say it's not only about the decibels. It's also about how long you are exposed to the noise.

Doctors say the bottom line is protecting your hearing now. And music could actually subject your ears to the sounds even longer.

---

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

USEFUL LINKS:
  • VIEWER PHOTOS AND VIDEOS

  • REPORT TYPO

  • GET WIDGET

  • EYEWITNESS TWITTER

  • FIND US ON FACEBOOK



  • Load Comments