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Sports-Arena Noise Can Damage Hearing

6 Minutes of Sports-Arena Noise = 81 Times Daily Noise Limit
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 8, 2006 - Six minutes of sports-arena noise gives fans 81 times their daily allowable dose of noise.

The finding comes from a hearing expert who went to the 2006 Stanley Cup hockey playoff games in Edmonton, Canada. The expert measured the noise levels to which he and his wife were exposed. Then they had their hearing checked.

The brave expert is Richard Liu, MD, of the University of Alberta. The tests showed that Liu and his wife suffered significant hearing loss after attending three hockey playoff games. Fortunately, the damage was temporary.

"However, if the ears are subjected to further noise exposure before full recovery, the temporary [hearing loss] may become permanent," warn Liu and colleague William E. Hodgetts. "The risk of hearing loss for … season ticket holders, arena workers, and the hockey players themselves warrants serious consideration."

Though the Edmonton arena has a reputation for being extremely noisy, it isn't the only loud sports venue in North America. Many U.S. and Canadian basketball, football, baseball, and car-racing arenas expose fans to extremely high noise levels for extended periods.

The researchers note that the American Academy of Audiology has established a maximum daily dose for noise. People exposed to more than this noise dose run a serious risk of hearing loss.

In just six average minutes of one of the Stanley Cup playoff games, Liu and his wife were exposed to 81 times the maximum daily noise dose.

However, had they worn even the simplest foam ear plugs, their noise exposure would have dropped to much safer levels.

Hodgetts and Liu report the findings in the Dec. 5 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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