The Project: Anything LOUD! In my case, that includes using a table saw, using a miter saw, mowing the lawn, changing a dirty diaper, etc. etc.
The Story: Hearing protection is just one of those things people like to ignore. Most folks will throw on some eye goggles or a face mask in the appropriate circumstances, but for some reason prolonged exposure to really loud noises doesn't seem to bother us. Why is that?
Think about it: those few hours a month you spend walking behind the lawn mower are exposing your ears to around 106 decibels of noise. NIOSH recommends less than 15 minutes of exposure per day at noise levels above 100 decibels. So every time you mow the lawn (let's say it takes an hour), you're QUADRUPLING the exposure limit, and hurting your ears.
The Lesson Learned: Protecting your hearing is actually really easy. Just wear ear plugs. They're practically free. A disposable pair like the ones below will cost you just $35.99 (on Amazon). FOR TWO HUNDRED OF THEM! That's $0.17 a piece. And they cut the noise down by 29 decibels.
How much is 29 decibels? A CRAP TON, PEOPLE! Check out this little video I made to illustrate:
I don't particularly like the feel of those little foam plugs, so I use a reusable pair of ear muffs like this pair or 3M Tekk Professional Hearing Protectors:
They have a NRR (noise reduction rating) or 30, which means they cut 30 decibels of noise. They're comfortable, and at $24 (at HomeDepot), you'll only have to wear them 141 times to come out ahead of the cheaper disposable plugs.
Curious how loud some common DIY sounds are? Here's a list (compiled from various sources around the web):
- Vacuum cleaner (80 db)
- Hand drill (110 db)
- Circular saw, table saw (110 db)
- Belt sander (95 db)
- Food processor (95 db)
- Air compressor (93 db)
- Leaf blower (110 db)