Hearing Loss can be caused by many things, but a main culprit is continual loud noise. You might not have thought of this, but riding recreational personal watercraft – think of jet skis (generic term used) for example or snowmobiles might be endangering your hearing. Riding these machines can be fun, even exciting, but take adequate precautions for your hearing. There are some newer PWC that are electric and don’t make noise so they wouldn’t be a problem.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires annual hearing tests for workers exposed on a daily basis to 85 decibels (dB) or more. Besides the frequency of the loud noise, the duration (length of time exposed in minutes or hours) is also taken into consideration. Permanent hearing loss may occur at 140 decibels (such as shooting a weapon without hearing protection or an explosion) and gradual hearing loss may occur over a period of time at 90 decibels for those exposed daily or for longer periods of time.
So consider this – some older snowmobiles generate as much as 120 decibels. According to the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees, the newer four-stroke models of snowmobiles still generate enough noise to damage hearing.
Yellowstone safety officer, Brandon Gauthier, “advises employees who drive the new four-stroke snowmobiles to wear earplugs because the machines are almost as loud as the two-stroke models, reaching a noise level of 111 decibels during acceleration. Because the decibel scale is logarithmic, that’s many times higher than the 85-decibel level at which medical experts advise the use of hearing protection*” As for Personal Watercraft (PWC) such as jet skis (generic) “We can expect the older Personal Watercraft (PWC) and two-stroke engines to have extremely high noise levels, with a range of 85- 102 decibels per unit”, according to a 2005 Issue Summary for Colorado State Parks. The American Hospital Association does recommend using hearing protection above 85 dB.
Do you work around Go-Karts or motorcycles?. Loads of fun for everyone, yet the average Go-Kart has a decibel level of 79-83 dB at 100 ft. I wonder what it is for the person inside the Go-Kart? Let’s hope the employees are wearing hearing protection. So the next time you or your children go to ride Go-Karts put some ear plugs with a good rating in your pocket. That was easy!
According to research published in Audiology, 2001, those people that were involved in leisure activities with loud noise associated with them, such as 90 dBa or more, were significantly more likely to have acquired hearing loss than those that didn’t participate in noisy recreational/leisure activities. So, do yourself a favor – if you are going to be using loud recreational vehicles, protect your hearing with ear plugs. Check out the Noise Reduction Rating before buying, and you can enjoy yourself with less risk to your hearing.