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September 05, 2013

Whistle blowing can damage hearing

Frequent exposure to whistle blowing could lead to hearing loss.

Whistle blowing can damage hearing

A single whistle blow ranges from 104 to 116 decibels and can severely harm hearing, according to research carried out by Professor Greg Flamme at the Western Michigan University.

36 times the maximum daily noise dose

Flamme discovered the link between whistle blowing and hearing loss by testing the noise levels one of his doctoral students was exposed to while refereeing at a basketball game.

 “We wound up having him wear a portable noise dosimeter, which measures how much noise you've been exposed to, while he was at a basketball game doing sports officiating,” Flamme said.

He further added: “Turns out he was exposed to nearly 36 times the maximum daily dose in that one game.”

Repeated exposure harmful

According to University of Windsor professor and acoustics specialist Colin Novak, continuous exposure to whistle blows will have a long term impact on a person's hearing.

“I can definitely see the link that they have found there. Whistle noise typically has a sound pressure level of about 105 to 115 decibels,” Novak stated. “A couple of whistle blows won’t do it but being repeatedly exposed to that level will cause various types of hearing impairments.”

Different whistles, same result

Flamme and his research group also measured the sound outputs of different whistle types and concluded that only one of the tested models could be considered acceptable for human hearing.

In contrast, all the other whistles, blowing anywhere between six and 90 seconds in length, were regarded as potentially dangerous for human hearing.

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