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 How noise affects your health

Research shows that everyday noise affects your body; here's what you need to know to lessen the effects.

A new study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives says that everyday noise such as cell phone rings and conversation can affect the rhythm and the rate of your heart. After monitoring 110 adults' daily heart rate activity and noise exposure, German researchers found that as a person's exposure to noise increased, so did their heart rate. On the other hand, their heart rate variability, or the time interval between heart beats, decreased. But the lesser the variability, the greater the risk of heart attack, says the study.  

Interestingly enough, when the noises stayed below 65 decibels ( safe levels) , participants' heart rate still went up.  According to the study, there are also other factors to consider. For example, the way a person perceives a sound—annoying or pleasant—could influence their psychological reaction. 

Know your limit. The WHO cut-off for safe levels is 85 dB. Normal conversation is between 60-65 dB, the refrigerator hum about 40 dB, heavy traffic, hairdryer, blender is approximately 85 dB. Hand drill is around 100 dB. Habitual exposure to noise above 85 dB will lead to gradual hearing loss in many people. In fact, the ‘safe limit’ decreases by half for every 5 point increase in the noise level- your exposure should be limited to 8 hours perday  at 90 dB. Don’t expose unprotected ears to noise over 140 dB.

Create a barrier between the noise and your ears whenever possible. Roll up car windows, sound-proof your home with heavy drapes, wear earplugs / earmuffs when you are in a noisy situation.