When is sound too loud?

Sounds can be harmful as of 80 decibels and could cause immediate damage to your hearing at 120 decibels or more. The degree of harm caused by sounds between 80 and 120 decibels depends on how often and how long you listen to them. Here’s an example: you can ‘safely’ listen to sounds of 80 decibels for eight hours a day (or forty hours a week). Every three decibels added doubles the sound, which means 83 decibels can be listened to for four hours a day (or twenty hours a week). Sounds at 103 decibels can damage your hearing in less than five minutes.


The actual situation determines whether or not a sound level is safe. The ‘Arbo’ health and safety standard of 80 decibels applies to a work environment. With regard to our leisure time, the Nationale Hoorstichting (National Hearing Foundation) recommends a standard of 88 decibels. The leisure time standard is more flexible because it assumes an average duration of ten years. The Arbo standard assumes a work duration of 40 years. View the maximum exposure according to the Arbo standard and the Leisure time standard here.

The table provides a list of sound levels.

Source: Nationale Hoorstichting (National Hearing Foundation)

Michel Mostert Marketing Specialist +31 (0)184 661 700 m.mostert@alara-lukagro.com

More information