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How Loud is 70 Decibels (dB)? Comparison Chart & FAQs

man hearing something

We live in a loud, exciting world full of noises, but they’re not all good. Whether it’s a car horn on the highway or music in your earbuds, all sounds are measured in decibels (dB). Unfortunately, our ears can only withstand certain decibels before becoming vulnerable to hearing damage.

In fact, any sounds above 70 dB can cause hearing damage after prolonged exposure. If you’re unsure what 70 dB sounds like, various common sounds are attached to each decibel level. For example, a washing machine sounds at 70 dB.

Keep reading to learn more about how loud 70 dB is and how long you can stay exposed to it before experiencing hearing damage.

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How Loud is 70 Decibels (dB)?

It can be hard to comprehend how loud 70 decibels can be just by reading the number. However, you can understand how loud it is by associating a decibel level with a familiar sound. For example, a washing machine sounds at 70 dB, which is a sound most people hear daily.

To learn the loudness of 70 dB, you must first learn what a decibel is. This unit of measurement determines the intensity of sound, helping us ensure whether a sound is safe for human eardrums.

The human ear can hear sounds ranging from 0–140 dB before they exceed the threshold of pain, becoming vulnerable to hearing loss or eardrum rupture. Since 70 dB is perfectly in the middle of our hearing range, it’s not too dangerous to listen to it for an extended period.

man holding phone hearing something
Image Credit: HariPrasetyo, Shutterstock

Common 70-Decibel Sounds

Here are a few sounds at 70 dB to help you understand the intensity of this decibel level:

Common 70 dB sounds:
  • Washing machine (74 dB)
  • Passenger car at 25 feet away (77 dB)
  • Vacuum cleaner (70 dB)
  • Television or radio (70 dB)
  • Alarm clock (75 dB)
  • Living room music (76 dB)
  • Restaurant (75 dB)
  • Office environment (70 dB)
  • Freeway at 50 ft (75 dB)
  • Hair dryer (72 dB)
man using dryer
Image Credit: Zivica Kerkez, Shutterstock

Can 70 Decibels Cause Hearing Damage?

As we mentioned, 70 dB is right in the middle of the human hearing range, which is why this decibel level is safe for us to hear for extended periods. However, like any decibel level, it has its limit.

It’s advised not to listen to 70 dB for over 24 hours at a time. This may seem confusing, considering we listen to washing machines, office environments, televisions, and passenger cars daily. But it’s worth noting that these sounds take up no more than a few hours of our time before our ears get a break. As a result, it’s not harmful to listen to 70 dB sounds on a daily basis as long as you give your ears a break before 24 hours.

More specifically, it’s best to limit your exposure to office environments to 8 hours a day and TV to 2 hours a day. Even then, it’s crucial to allow yourself 20 minutes to 2 hours of quiet time if you can afford it.

While 70 dB isn’t harmful, it hits the limit of non-damaging sounds your ear should be exposed to. Any sounds louder than 70 dB can cause irritation, hearing damage, hearing loss, or even eardrum rupture.

man using ear phones
Image Credit: Piqsels

Noise Comparison Chart

Here is a noise comparison chart for different noise sources at varying decibel levels and their damage potential.

As you can see, 70 dB is a reasonably low decibel level heard from washing machines, radios, vacuum cleaners, living room music, and more. However, it can cause hearing damage after 24 hours of exposure.

Decibel Level Noise Source Damage Potential
10 dB Normal breathing No hearing damage
20 dB Leaves rustling No hearing damage
30 dB Quiet rural area No hearing damage
40 dB Whispering nearby No hearing damage
50 dB Refrigerator No hearing damage
60 dB Normal conversation No hearing damage
70 dB Washing machine Hearing damage after 24 hours
80 dB Garbage disposal Hearing damage after two hours
90 dB Hairdryer Hearing damage after 50 minutes
100 dB Motorcycle Hearing damage after 15 minutes of exposure
110 dB Car horn Hearing damage after one-minute exposure
120 dB Ambulance siren Serious hearing damage after a few seconds
130 dB Rock concert Immediate harm
140 dB Gunshots Immediate harm
150 dB Jet take-off Eardrum rupture

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Since various everyday machinery, such as radios, TVs, and washing machines, sound at 70 dB, it may seem impossible to experience hearing damage from this decibel level. However, we only listen to these sounds for a few hours every day.

After 24 hours of continuous exposure to 70 dB, you may experience hearing damage. Now that you know the damage potential of 70 dB and other decibel levels, you can protect your eardrums by avoiding prolonged exposure and close proximity to loud sounds.

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Featured Image Credit: Luis Molinero, Shutterstock


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