Noise level guide

How loud is too loud?

The decibel (dB) is used to measure sound levels. The louder the sound, the more likely it is to damage your hearing and the faster that damage will occur.


Noise Level Type of noise Safe exposure time (without noise protection)
30dB Whisper Safe
55dB Normal conversation Safe
70dB Soft radio music Safe
70dB Vacuum cleaner Safe
80dB Washing machine Safe
85dB Car traffic 8 hours
90dB Personal stereo - average volume  2 hours
90dB Bus interior 2 hours
91dB Public House 2 hours
95dB Bar in a nightclub 1 hour
100dB Inside an underground train

15 minutes

100dB Hair dryer

15 minutes

115dB Personal stereo - maximum volume

7.5 minutes

130dB Live band

66 seconds


Once a noise reaches over 85dB damage to your hearing may begin. After this every 3dB level increase in sound halves the length of time that your ears can handle the noise before damage starts. If you are exposed to loud sounds protect your hearing using noise plugs or move away from the noise.

Source: British Academy of Audiology


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18 everyday sounds that can hurt your hearing

There are more than 11 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss, or 1 in 6 of the population. By 2035, it’s estimated that there’ll be 15.6 million people with hearing loss in the UK - that’s 1 in 5.
Exposure to loud noise is a leading cause. So what is considered “loud”? Exposure to any sound 85dB and above can cause hearing damage, though duration is also a factor. Here are 18 common sounds that
typically top 85dB.

18 everyday sounds crop

More information

British Tinnitus Association


Action on Hearing Loss


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