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Question: How long can a person endure a certain noise level before hearing impairment occurs? Sounds above 90 decibels (dB, a measurement of the loudness or strength of sound vibration) may cause vibrations intense enough to damage the inner ear, especially if the sound continues for a long time. The chart above represents levels of noise measured in decibels (dB), a measurement of the loudness or strength of sound vibration. Daily activities such as speech take place in the 60 – 80 dBA range (the GREEN zone) and are safe without hearing loss for up to 12 hours. The dynamic range of music, whether performed by a symphony orchestra, brass band, or at a rock concert, can peak at 95 dBA or above.
130 dBA, the sustained noise of a jet engine from 100 feet away can cause hearing damage in under 5 minutes. Preserve New Orleans’ sounds, the soul of the New Orleans’ cultural heritage and the driving force of our tourist economy. Hearing Protection FAQThis section answers the questions we regularly receive about our in ear hearing protection systems (Serenity, Primero DPC+, Silemo Mini) and our SafetyMeter fit testing system.
The amount or degree of attenuation is most often expressed using units called decibels (dBs). The problem is simple: once destroyed, the microscopic hair cells of the inner ear do not grow back.
A useful rule of thumb is this: if you have to shout, or have difficulty being understood by someone just 2 meters away, then the sound level is approximately 80 dB.
If the same problem occurs at a distance of just 1 meter, the noise level is around 90 dB. To learn more about decibel noise levels, click here (image opens in new window).What is the best type of hearing protection for staff with an existing hearing loss?Phonak's research has discovered that users with an existing hearing loss benefit most from using 'dynamic' (level-dependent) hearing protection.
When an active system’s built-in miniature microphones detect noise levels reaching dangerous levels - including very short ‘impulse’ noises such as gun shots or crashes - these sounds are instantaneously reduced to a comfortable, safe level. Clinical nylon is biocompatible, highly resistant to mechanical, chemical and thermal stresses, and extremely lightweight (weighing approximately one third of the weight of acrylic or silicone). The amount of attenuation two users receive from their identical protection systems can be different.

Individuals involved in the fitting process and receiving positive feedback on the proper fit of their ear protection will be more likely to have a positive attitude about protecting their hearing and will be more apt to use this protection correctly and consistently. A more consistent and accurate attenuation value is obtained with an objective measurement such as F-MIRE, which involves a dual-microphone real ear measurement of a test signal.
The system's objective fit verification protects both employee and employer better through being able to reliably predict HPD performance in real world situations. Sounds above 85 dBA may cause damage to the delicate sensory cells of the inner ear, especially if sound is very loud or if it continues for a long time without a break (more than eight hours). The roar of a cheering Saints crowd enclosed in the Superdome can peak at 100 dBA or higher. With this approach a user's communication is enhanced, which in turn should lead to better compliance.
This makes passive protection systems a great fit for people who work or play in continual loud noise. Clinical nylon is also used extensively in the medical device industry.Can having a hard material such as nylon in the ear cause headaches and pressure build-up?No, because each eShell mold is custom-made to fit the individual’s ear and manufactured with perfect accuracy. It controls and documents the actual protection (‘attenuation’ or sound reduction) the hearing protection device applies.
This positive outcome should result in reduced noise-induced hearing loss in the workplace.Who should use fit testing systems?Fit testing is for everyone. In some situations HPDs that are currently in use are only verifiable with a subjective test (these are less accurate as they require employees to respond to sound stimuli, similar to an audiogram). Re-usable test probes also eliminate the need for consumables, which can add significantly to ongoing fit testing costs with other systems.Why is it important to test hearing protection devices?When a user receives new custom hearing protection it is important to check that their in-ear shells (in this case Serenity eShells) have been produced using an accurate impression and are therefore providing the attenuation (sound reduction) required. If you turn up your iPod or car radio to drown out the racket around you, you are actually blasting your ears with a dangerous level of sound.
These sensory cells in the inner ear typically do not recover once damaged; once they are gone, they are never replaced. The consequence is permanent hearing loss and a highly frustrating ringing in the ears (tinnitus). It is a common misperception that you need to wear something that covers all the ears to receive effective protection against noise.

As a result, it feels and behaves in a completely natural way in the ear.How long can Serenity hearing protection devices be used before they must be replaced?Serenity in-ear hearing protection devices are particularly resistant to mechanical and chemical stresses and can be used for between 3 and 5 years. When a user receives any type of new hearing protection it is important to check that it performs properly and the user understands how to use it fully. In some cases over 10% of ear molds have to be remade before a proper fit and attenuation performance is achieved.How should you select a fit testing system?To date, field fit-test methods for use with hearing protectors include subjective real-ear attenuation at threshold (REAT) measurements, objective field microphone-in-real-ear (F-MIRE) measures and loudness balance technologies, to obtain a personal attenuation rating (PAR). It is designed specifically to control and document the actual protection (‘attenuation’) a Phonak Serenity user receives.
Testing can be performed in any quiet environment, such as a manager’s office or meeting room. There is currently no agreed standard for determining how a PAR should be calculated; each fit testing system uses a proprietary calculation to determine the result displayed. The system is portable, and easy to set up and dismantle.How often should tests be run?Every new fitting should be validated.
This ensures that user HPDs work effectively over time, and that the attenuation an employee's system provides has not been compromised in some way (i.e.
However, in the event of a user mentioning a specific problem with their hearing protection, or the user’s body weight changing significantly, a new fit test should be run immediately.What is the PAR?The Personal Attenuation Rating, or PAR, is an ear protection rating that applies to one user and their hearing protection system. Unlike SNR (Europe) and NRR (US) ratings, this figure does not represent an average figure based on test results from several users wearing a protection product.
Instead it is specific to a single user’s product and ears.How should the PAR be used?At the bottom of SafetyMeter’s Personal Attenuation Control Certificate, which is created after each test, the user is given Phonak’s Serenity usage recommendations. These suggestions are not general figures but are very specific to the PAR rating of the individual user’s hearing protection. These figures recommend the user’s maximum recommended exposure to noise (in hours) at different surround noise levels (measured in decibels), when wearing their Serenity in ear hearing protection.

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