Do you work in or near a noisy environment, such as a construction site, a popular restaurant, or a concert or sports venue? Ever wonder how loud the noise really is and if it could be damaging your hearing? There’s an app for that!
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developed the NIOSH Sound Level Meter (SLM) app for iOS devices to help promote better hearing health and prevention efforts. You can download the free app on iTunes.
NIOSH estimates that 22 million workers in the United States are exposed to hazardous noise levels each year. The SLM app can help you prevent permanent hearing loss caused by noise—a problem that can occur immediately or over time.
NIOSH developed the app after its researchers found that most sound meter apps either weren’t accurate enough or lacked features important for occupational noise measurement and monitoring. NIOSH then collaborated with an app developer, EA LAB, to create a new app for use at worksites. Although the app is designed for use at worksites, it also provides accurate noise measurement for everyday use, and can be downloaded and used by anyone in any location, including concerts, movie theaters, sports events, and even school cafeterias.
Using a mobile device’s built-in microphone or an external microphone, the NIOSH SLM app measures occupational noise exposure the way professional measuring instruments do. For example, NIOSH SLM reports the sound level in different weighted decibels, including A-weighted decibels, which can give you a good idea of the level of sound that could harm your hearing. In addition, the app can save and share measurement data. NIOSH recommends using an external, calibrated microphone with any sound level app to increase accuracy.
The NIOSH SLM also includes information on preventing hearing loss, examples of noise levels and their risks to hearing, and a searchable database of devices to protect your hearing.