One day, when you stand in line to get into a local music club, you might also then stand in line to get your – ear plugs! At some music clubs on the West Coast, that happens. As a matter of fact, the issue of hearing loss became so much of a concern in cool and hip San Francisco, back in 2002, that the city actually passed an ordinance called the “Earplug Ordinance for San Francisco” – and it required “any place of entertainment and after hours premises with a dance floor and a capacity of 500 persons” had to do “provide or sell, at a reasonable cost, earplugs, to patrons.” Unlike other trends that start on the West Coast, this one doesn’t seem to have caught traction on the East Coast. Perhaps it should have.
The danger of amplified rock, Hip Hop or heavy metal causing permanent hearing damage at clubs or in music venues is very real. It’s also a danger to listen through headphones at high volumes. In general, danger exists when periods of listening are between 3.75 minutes and 30 minutes of exposure/day, and sounds are louder than 85 decibels. That’s when permanent hearing loss can take place. (Usually, sounds of less than 75 decibels, even after long exposure are unlikely to cause hearing loss). The louder the sound are over 85 decibels, the shorter the amount of time it takes Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, or NIHL to happen, according to the National Institute on Deafness & Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).