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Information about Decibel Levels

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Comparative Examples of Noise Levels

Comparative Examples of Noise Sources, Decibels
& Their Effects

Noise Source

Decibel Level

Decibel Effect

Jet take-off (at 25 meters)


Eardrum rupture

Aircraft carrier deck



Military jet aircraft take-off from aircraft carrier with afterburner at 50 ft (130 dB).



Thunderclap, chain saw. Oxygen torch (121 dB).


Painful. 32 times as loud as 70 dB.

Steel mill, auto horn at 1 meter. Turbo-fan aircraft at takeoff power at 200 ft (118 dB). Riveting machine (110 dB); live rock music (108 - 114 dB).


Average human pain threshold. 16 times as loud as 70 dB.

Jet take-off (at 305 meters), use of outboard motor, power lawn mower, motorcycle, farm tractor, jackhammer, garbage truck. Boeing 707 or DC-8 aircraft at one nautical mile (6080 ft) before landing (106 dB); jet flyover at 1000 feet (103 dB); Bell J-2A helicopter at 100 ft (100 dB).


8 times as loud as 70 dB. Serious damage possible in 8 hr exposure

Boeing 737 or DC-9 aircraft at one nautical mile (6080 ft) before landing (97 dB); power mower (96 dB); motorcycle at 25 ft (90 dB). Newspaper press (97 dB).


4 times as loud as 70 dB. Likely damage 8 hr exp

Garbage disposal, dishwasher, average factory, freight train (at 15 meters). Car wash at 20 ft (89 dB); propeller plane flyover at 1000 ft (88 dB); diesel truck 40 mph at 50 ft (84 dB); diesel train at 45 mph at 100 ft (83 dB). Food blender (88 dB); milling machine (85 dB); garbage disposal (80 dB).


2 times as loud as 70 dB. Possible damage in 8 hr exposure.

Passenger car at 65 mph at 25 ft (77 dB); freeway at 50 ft from pavement edge 10 a.m. (76 dB). Living room music (76 dB); radio or TV-audio, vacuum cleaner (70 dB).


Arbitrary base of comparison. Upper 70s are annoyingly loud to some people.

Conversation in restaurant, office, background music, Air conditioning unit at 100 ft


Half as loud as 70 dB. Fairly quiet

Quiet suburb, conversation at home. Large electrical transformers at 100 ft


One-fourth as loud as 70 dB.

Library, bird calls (44 dB); lowest limit of urban ambient sound


One-eighth as loud as 70 dB.

Quiet rural area


One-sixteenth as loud as 70 dB. Very Quiet

Whisper, rustling leaves





Barely audible


[modified from] on 2/2000.
SOURCES: Temple University Department of Civil/Environmental Engineering (, and Federal Agency Review of Selected Airport Noise Analysis Issues, Federal Interagency Committee on Noise (August 1992). Source of the information is attributed to Outdoor Noise and the Metropolitan Environment, M.C. Branch et al., Department of City Planning, City of Los Angeles, 1970.






The Navy is rolling out more robust hearing protection for flight deck sailors. (MCSN Nicolas C. Lopez / Navy)

By Meghann Myers
Staff writer

  • Filed Under

The Navy is developing new hearing protection for flight deck crews to block out the roar of new and noisy jets.

The F-35 Lightning II, which clocks in at a thundering 152 decibels, is forcing the service to come up with better hearing protection for sailors.

Enter the new headset: they offer 14 decibels more protection and are worn over earplugs, like the legacy “Mickey Mouse” headphones that the fleet has used for six decades.

“The Navy flight deck is one of the noisiest places in the military,” said Dan Ratcliff, program manager of aircrew systems for Naval Air Systems Command, in an April 8 briefing at the Sea-Air-Space expo outside Washington, D.C.

The new headset, known as the DC2, is a 14-decibel upgrade already in use with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wings.

Some sailors may also get to wear new foam ear plugs that have an embedded speaker, allowing yellowshirts to listen to the plane and the ship while on deck.

Ratcliff said the ear plugs fit most sailors, but if they don’t, there’s an option to have the speakers embedded into custom-made ear plugs.

So far the aircraft carrier Nimitz and its air wing are using the Argonaut system, which got the go-ahead for full production last November.

NAVAIR isn’t done trying to protect sailors’ hearing. Officials are now in the early stages of a triple hearing protection system that works at up to 39 decibels, Ratcliff said.


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