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Noise level guide

 How loud is too loud?

The decibel (dB) is used to measure sound levels. Here's a quick guide to the decibel level of a range of common sounds, so you know when to think about taking action to protect your hearing.


Decibels Activity Risk
40dB Quiet room  
60dB Conversation, dishwasher  
70dB Busy traffic, vacuum cleaner  
85dB Hairdryer, blender - Beginning of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Noise Regulations Risk of hearing damage in 8 hours
90dB Lawnmower, lorry traffic, food processor Risk of hearing damage in 8 hours
95dB Motorcycle, power saw Risk of hearing damage in 4 hours
100dB Chainsaw, stereo headphones Risk of hearing damage in 2 hours
105dB Jackhammer, helicopter Risk of hearing damage in 1 hour
110dB Night club, symphony orchestra Risk of hearing damage in 30 minutes
115dB Baby's cry, jet ski Risk of hearing damage in 15 minutes
120dB Rock concert, sandblasting

Risk of hearing damage in 7 minutes

125dB Air raid siren, firecracker

Pain threshold

140dB Jet engine at takeoff

Immediate danger to hearing

160dB Shotgun

Immediate danger to hearing


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