Can You Be Killed By Sound?

Sound just like any other force of nature has its merits and demerits. It pays to understand it well in order to use to our advantage.

I’ve worked in audio production for almost a decade now and I’ve gained some experience in recording loud sounds for sound effect purposes.

One question I recently got when I was working recording controlled explosions for sound effects is: “Can you be killed by sound?”

This got me thinking and I discussed this with some people and I thought it would be a great idea for an article so here it is.

With that said, Can you be killed by sound?”

Sound is a pressure wave that moves through a medium. It can kill somebody if it’s intensity exceeds the structural strength of the body.

Sounds within the human hearing frequency range are between 20 and 20,000 Hz. High-intensity sounds above 150 decibels can burst and destroy your eardrums, while sounds above 185 dB can negatively impact your inner organs and cause death.

However, to instantly kill, a sound would have to be as loud as 240 dB which is hard to come by.

High noise levels can also cause hypertension and other disorders that can contribute to poor health and death.

Effects of Noise

The effects of noise on hearing vary among people.

Not everyone has the same ears.

Some people’s ears are lot more sensitive to loud sounds, especially at certain frequencies.

Frequency is simply how low or high a tone is.

However, it’s safe to say that  any sound that’s loud enough and lasts long enough can  cause permant ear damage hearing and if its too loud can lead to organ failure.

Loudness

We measure a sounds loudness in decibels which is denoted as dB.

Normal conversation are about 60 dB.

A lawn mower is about 90 dB. And a loud rock concert is about 120 dB.

 In general, sounds that are above 85 dB are considered harmful.

Exposure

Damage done also depends on how long and how often a person is exposed to the sound.

It also depends on whether you wear hearing protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs.

As sound gets louder, the amount of time you can listen to it before damage occurs decreases.

Hearing protectors reduce the loudness of sound reaching the ears. They allow you to listen to louder sounds for a longer time.

How to know when noise levels may be harmful

Below are some of the ways you can be more aware of possibly harmful noise.

Its important to pay attention to warning signs that a sound might be damaging to your hearing. A sound may be harmful if:

1. You have trouble talking or hearing others talk over the sound and have to shout.

2. The sound makes your ears hurt or experience ear fatigue

3. Your ears are ringing after hearing the sound.

4. Other sounds seem muffled after you leave an area where there is loud sound.

Noise pollution

Noise pollution is dangerous and cannot be seen, but it is present and you’ve probably experienced it.

Definition

Noise pollution is basically considered to be any unwanted or disturbing sound that affects or endangers the health and well-being of humans and other organisms. 

Environmental sounds

There are so many sounds in the environment, from rustling leaves that are only 20 to 30 decibels to a thunderclap (120 decibels) to the wail of a siren (120 to 140 decibels).

Sounds that reach 85 decibels or higher can harm a person’s ears.

Effect of noise pollution

Noise pollution impacts millions of people on a daily basis.

The most common health problem assoxiated with noise pollution is Noise Induced Hearing Loss.

Exposure to loud noise can also cause high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbances, and stress.

These health problems can affect all age groups, and children are usually the most at risk.

How To Protect Yourself From Dangerous Sounds

It’s important to be aware of the impact of noise level in your surrounding environment to keep your hearing and overall health safe.

Below are some things you can do to protect yourself from dangerous noise that could not only pose a risk to your health but your life as well.

1. Always monitor noise levels at home and at your workplace.

2. Avoid noise levels above 85 dB as much as possible.

3. Use hearing protection or simply move away from the loud sound source when you cannot avoid exposure.