Gregorian Chants

Audiologist expresses concern about noise levels at Arrowhead

Updated: 2013-10-15T20:57:21Z

By VAHE GREGORIAN

The Kansas City Star

Hate to be a Debbie Downer, per Saturday Night Live, blurting out a muted trombone "wah-wah" about all the rah-rah over Arrowhead Stadium being declared the world’s loudest by the Guinness Book of World Records on Sunday when a crowd roar was measured at 137.5 decibels.

But on Monday I received an e-mail from James B. Robertson, a doctor of audiology and Chiefs fan. He offered an inconvenient but thought-provoking public-service point, so I e-mailed him back and got his permission to publish his note.

"As much as I can enjoy the so-far winning season of the Chiefs, as someone who has been practicing audiology for 39 years, I have concerns about the stated noise levels," he wrote.

He doesn’t want to put a damper on all this, of course, but he explained the potential consequences:

"I have worked in hearing conservation for more than 13 years of my 39-year career, and here are the permissible exposure limits as set by OSHA: 90 dB for 8 hours. Following that, there is a 5 dB time/intensity trade off. 

"So, for 95 dB, the limit is 4 hours; for 100 dB, it is 2 hours; 105 dB, 1 hour; 110 dB, 1/2 hour; 110 dB, 1/4 hour; 115 dB, 7.5 minutes; 120 dB, 3.75 minutes, and so on. But you get my point. Hearing loss can be incurred over a very short period of time.

"I heard people on the news reporting ringing in their ears, or tinnitus, still happening this morning. That is because those people suffered a TTS (temporary threshold shift) in their hearing levels. Repeated TTS's leads to PTS, or permanent threshold shift. 

"I cannot stress enough that hearing protection devices must be used at Arrowhead if these dB levels continue, as they surely will with this winning season.  Hearing protection devices have their built-in set of problems as well, because the NRR (noise reduction rating) stated on the packaging is somewhat bogus as it was done in a laboratory and not the real world.

"Thanks for reading my concerns."

In his response, Robertson reiterated that people are putting their hearing at risk by prolonged exposure. So, it’s proceed at your own risk or seek protection, bummer that it might be to think about.

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