In a nation full of football enthusiasts, nobody cheers louder or harder than fans of the Seattle Seahawks. In fact, the force of our roars has caused mini-earthquakes during home games. Just imagine what that kind of acoustic force is doing to our ears!
Matt Roe, an acoustical consultant with SSA Acoustics, measured noise levels in CenturyLink Field when the Seahawks played New Orleans in December 2013. We broke the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd roar during that game, clocking in at 137.6 decibels. Impressive, for sure, but there are definite downsides to this point of pride.
For instance, NFL games typically average between eighty and ninety decibels, which, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, clocks in at an already potentially-harmful range. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health warns that exposure to eighty-five decibels for eight hours or more leads to permanent hearing damage. And every time the level increases by just three decibels, the time of safe exposure is cut in half. So how does that measure up for Seahawks fans? At our current volume, it takes anywhere from one to fifteen minutes for the sound to damage our hearing—and the average football game lasts about three hours! That’s serious business considering that at 137.6 decibels of fan cheering, the noise level is almost the same as a jet engine during takeoff. And unlike airport employees, most fans don’t wear any ear protection.
It’s tempting to let passion and excitement skew our judgment when it comes to hearing protection, but precautions in the form of earplugs (which can be purchase for a few dollars most anywhere) will save your ears and keep you hearing those cheers for years to come!