Sound pressure level at vacuum cleaner and earphones

In summary, the sound levels for devices like vacuum cleaners and earphones are measured differently and the proximity of the device to your ear can affect the perceived loudness. Additionally, the structure of the house can also play a role in how the sound is transmitted.
  • #1
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Hello,

I have read that vacuum cleaner makes 70 dBa and earplugs can easily go beyond this.

The problem I have is that I can hear my neighbor's vacuum cleaner thru wall easily. But if I set my mp3 player at max (should be around 100dBa according to manufacturer) I can heard this at few meters max.

I have also set my earplugs to those 70 dBa (I compared both sounds and set the loudness that is most similar to each other). Still I can hear my vacuum cleaner everywhere in my flat, but my earphones can hardly be heard at a distance of one meter.

My question is why I can't hear my earphones as loud as vacuum cleaner if they are supposed to have similar loudness?

Thank you.
 
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  • #2
Sound levels for devices like a vacuum cleaner are usually given as the sound level 1 meter from the device.

Sound levels for earphones are the sound level you hear when you are actually wearing them. Obviosuly they are much closer to you ear than 1 meter away, but also the volume of air between the phone and you eardrum is almost "airtight", which means the pressure level at your eardrum is higher than if you measured the sound level a few millimeters away from the phones when they were NOT being worn.

Another effect is that if a vacuum cleaner is standing on the floor, some of the sound you hear is coming from the whole structure of the house being vibrated by the cleaner, not just the sound transmitted through the air. That partly explains why the sound level doesn't seem to decay much if you are further from the cleaner, and why you can hear it easily through walls etc.
 

1. How does the sound pressure level of a vacuum cleaner affect my hearing when using earphones?

The sound pressure level (SPL) of a vacuum cleaner can reach up to 85-90 decibels, which is considered a safe level for short periods of time. However, when using earphones, the SPL can be amplified and potentially cause damage to your hearing if exposed for a prolonged period of time. It is important to use earphones with noise-cancelling features or limit your vacuuming time to prevent hearing damage.

2. What is the average SPL of a vacuum cleaner and how does it compare to other household appliances?

The average SPL of a vacuum cleaner is around 70-80 decibels, which is similar to the noise level of a busy street or a hairdryer. However, compared to other household appliances, such as a refrigerator or dishwasher, a vacuum cleaner tends to be louder and can potentially cause more harm to your hearing if used for a prolonged period of time.

3. Can the sound pressure level of a vacuum cleaner and earphones cause hearing loss?

Yes, prolonged exposure to high SPLs can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. The combination of a loud vacuum cleaner and earphones can amplify the sound and potentially cause damage to the delicate hair cells in the inner ear. It is important to take breaks and limit your exposure to loud noises to prevent hearing loss.

4. How can I protect my hearing while using a vacuum cleaner and earphones?

There are a few ways to protect your hearing while using a vacuum cleaner and earphones. You can use noise-cancelling or noise-isolating earphones to block out the loud sound of the vacuum cleaner. You can also limit your vacuuming time or take breaks in between to give your ears a rest. Lastly, using earplugs or earmuffs can also help reduce the sound pressure level and protect your hearing.

5. Are there any regulations on the maximum sound pressure level of household appliances?

Yes, there are regulations in place to limit the maximum sound pressure level of household appliances. In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets the maximum allowable SPL for workers at 90 decibels for an 8-hour shift. However, there are currently no specific regulations for household appliances. It is important to take precautions and limit your exposure to loud noises to protect your hearing.

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