Average decibel level of high school bands is over 95 dB. New one size fits most ear plugs help protect hearing while maintaining ability to hear fellow musicians.
The greatest source of hearing loss is exposure to loud sounds, and it is 100% preventable. Noises over 85 dB have been identified by OSHA as damaging to hearing if exposed for more than an 8 hour period. Decibels are measured in a logarithmic fashion, and so a small increase in decibels means a dramatic decrease in how quickly sounds can damage hearing. For example, an orchestra averages around 88 dB, which is safe for about 4 hours. A concert band averages 93 dB, and is only safe for about an hour and 15 minutes.
Hearing loss is increasing at an alarming rate in the 15-25 year old age bracket. The CDC estimates that 12.5% of children and adolescents aged 6–19 years (approximately 5.2 million) and 17% of adults aged 20–69 years (approximately 26 million) have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise.
In order to protect student’s hearing and prevent hearing loss, Dr. Christine Pickup, along with the support of the Burley and Rupert Kiwanis clubs, is providing a new service called Adopt-A-Band. The program makes specialized hearing protection designed and produced by Etymotic available to students at a much reduced rate. Normal retail price for the ear plugs is $13. With bulk purchasing and the help of service clubs in our area, the price per student is only $5. Along with the ear plugs, the teachers and band directors are given tools to teach their students about sounds and how to protect their hearing.
Hearing loss due to noise exposure begins in the high frequencies, and is usually gradual. Over time, the symptoms become more pronounced, and can have a great impact academically, socially, and also impair a person’s ability to obtain and keep employment. Prevention is the best treatment. The Adopt-A-Band program protects and educates students to help them have a lifetime of healthy hearing.
This year, we’ve been able to help the Minico High School and Declo High School Bands. I’d like to thank Mr. Brett Barker and Mr. Roger Turner for allowing me to make a short educational presentation to their students, and for supporting their students in making healthy hearing choices.
If you would like more information, would like to make a donation, or would like your school to participate in Adopt-A-Band, contact Dr. Christine Pickup at Mt. Harrison Audiology, (208) 312-0957.