Yard and garden work is inevitable with the arrival of spring, but working with noisy gardening tools can be more than just an annoyance.
“Regular yard activities such as mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, cutting trees and leaf blowing expose us to potentially damaging noise levels,” says M.J. DeSousa, of Connect Hearing Clinics. “With more than one million people in Canada reporting hearing loss, it’s important to understand that once our hearing has been affected, the damage is permanent and irreversible. This is particularly important to remember when thousands of Canadians work on lawn care and spring cleanup.”
DeSousa says 95 per cent of hearing loss in adults is sensorineural in nature (nerve damage), which is caused by noise exposure, aging and other factors. Everyday sounds such as loud music, gardening tools, fireworks and work environments can often affect hearing loss over time.
Most lawnmowers have a noise level ranging between 90 to 92 decibels, an intensity that is only safe for a period of up to two hours. Power saws produce a noise level as high as 110 decibels, equivalent to that of an accelerating motorcycle.
“As most of us in Canada would not spend more than two hours mowing our lawns, we assume that our hearing is safe,” says DeSousa. “But when you add the other noise – inducing activities that a regular day of yard work would include, we are very likely to be exposing ourselves to an unsafe level.”
Research states that the maximum ‘safe level’ of noise is 85 decibels, similar to that of busy city traffic. Exposure to levels greater than this can contribute to hearing damage.
“Wear hearing protection,” DeSousa said. “Earplugs and earmuffs are cheap and easy to use and reduce noise levels by 15 to 30 decibels. Wearing both at the same time provides even more protection.”
For more information, please go to www.canadianhearingsociety.com.