Fireworks can cause hearing problems

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, the Quiet Coalition

This press release from Purdue University discusses the fact that noise from fireworks can cause hearing problems.

There are several errors in the press release. Namely, the 85 decibel noise level cited is an occupational noise exposure standard that isn’t safe for the public nor is it meant to be a standard for the general public. But the main thrust of the piece is a good, general warning that loud noise is bad for the ears.

And the advice offered by Anne Sommer, an audiology clinical instructor at Purdue, that double hearing protection–foam ear plugs and ear muffs–should be used when setting off personal fireworks is sound.

I would only add that if double protection is needed for an unnecessary task, the more prudent option is to avoid exposure. After all, one really shouldn’t set off personal fireworks unless one is willing to accept the loss of an eye or a finger. Fireworks, which are banned in Los Angeles, are inherently dangerous and are really best left to the pros.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’s Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

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