Apple Hearing Study Suggests An Estimated 1 in 3 Americans Are Regularly Exposed to Excessive Noise

An estimated 1 in 3 Americans are exposed to harmful levels of noise on a regular basis, based on data gathered as part of the Apple Hearing Study. In recognition of International Noise Awareness Day, University of Michigan researchers working on the hearing study in partnership with Apple shared a blog post noise exposure.

excessive noise apple watch
Extrapolating data collected from 130,000 Apple Hearing Study volunteers who contributed readings from their Apple Watch between November 2019 and December 2022, the University of Michigan estimated that 77 million adults across the United States are consistently exposed to high noise levels.

According to the World Health Organization and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, an annual average noise exposure level of 70 decibels (dBA) poses no risk for hearing loss, but exposure over 70 dBA can result in damage to hearing.

The study assumes that people with repeated daily average noise exposures over 70 dBA likely have an annual noise exposure over 70 dBA, which researchers say can result in hearing issues, irritation, heart problems, and sleep disturbances, in addition to impacting mental health. Higher noise levels for longer time periods can increase risk.

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The Apple Watch has a built-in feature for detecting environmental sound level, and it collects data to tabulate an average daily environmental sound exposure level. The information collected by the watch can be located in the Hearing section of the Health app.

The Health app will let you know if your noise exposure levels are below 75 dB on average and are "OK," or if you have been repeatedly exposed to higher levels of sound that can impact your health. At 80 dB, 40 hours of exposure over seven days could potentially result in damage, but at 120 dB, 14 seconds over seven days could cause problems. The Apple Watch is able to send an alert when it detects a harmful noise level so you can move to a quieter location.

People in Puerto Rico, Delaware, Rhode Island, Mississippi, and Connecticut experienced the highest noise pollution levels, and adults aged 35 to 44 were more likely to be exposed to high noise levels compared to those in other age groups.

Additional details about the study can be found in the full blog post on the University of Michigan website. To cut down on hearing damage, researchers recommend that those regularly exposed to excessive noise pollution move away from noisy areas and take "quiet breaks," buy quiet appliances, and wear ear muffs and ear plugs when possible.

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Top Rated Comments

rick987611 Avatar
15 months ago
Mine yells at my any time I use a hand dryer in a bathroom.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Regbial Avatar
15 months ago
Makes sense... many people are simply not educated on this matter because it's inconvenient... but hearing loss can be permanent...
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
anthony13 Avatar
15 months ago
Holding a crying baby is a common trigger as well. Things like this, crash detection, and other gimmicks just don’t seem reliably implemented.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr. Dee Avatar
15 months ago
Like my neighbors upstairs doing the horizontal polka every night. ?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
agwin27 Avatar
15 months ago
Probably inaccurate since every time I wash my hands (which my Apple Watch can detect) and use a hand dryer immediately after, my watch thinks my eardrums are being blown out.

You’d think it would be logical to disregard “loud noises” for at least 30-60 seconds after handwashing has been detected.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
t0rqx Avatar
15 months ago
What they do not write is that the #1 cause of ear damage is due to earphones. Guess what brand is on top of the list?

That being said Apple does have a neat implementation for safe use of their Airpods.

Wait for the eye damage report and the device that causes it! Spoiler: Watch WWDC 2023.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)