Loud Toys Can Damage Hearing

The Minnesota-based Sight and Hearing Association recently tested the loudness of about a dozen toys, and found that the Electronic Talking Nursery Rhyme Bus at 108 decibels (dB) registered above a 105 dB jackhammer. Three Fisher Price toys - Pull-Up Ball Blast, Baby Smartronics Learn-a-bot, and Rappin' Radio registered 100 dB or more, louder than a chainsaw. Repeated exposure to these noises, even for a few minutes, could damage the hearing of the children (and adults) nearby. The Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres also found a toy cap gun between 105 and 110 dB, a toy whistle at 106 dB, a keyboard at 104 dB, and a toy drum and CD player both at 103 dB. These toys are found for sale in Canada despite a Health Canada prohibition which sets the upper limit at 100 dB as measured at arms length. The Nova Scotia tests were conducted closer to the ear where many children would sometimes play with their toys. The limit in the USA is a whopping 138 dB.

Experts are advocating labelling of loud toys to warn parents they may be harmful. In general, if you have to raise your voice to be heard above a noise, that noise can, in time, damage your hearing.

-Vancouver Sun, January 8, 2002

Decibels Acceptable Exposure Time
50 to 60 Normal conversation No limit
85 Heavy traffic, noisy restaurant 4 hours
105 to 120 Headphones 0 to 15 minutes
117 Football stadiums, theatres Under 4 minutes
120 Concerts, close thunder Instantaneous risk
140 Airplane taking off nearby Instantaneous risk
170 Shotgun blast nearby Instantaneous risk

-Sources: EPA 1972 Handbook, and Canadian Hard of Hearing Association Newsletter, April, 2001

Airport Noise Jettisons Property Values

In 1994 the consulting firm of Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Inc. prepared a report titled The Effect of Airport Noise on Housing Values: A Summary Report for the Federal Aviation Administration. In two paired moderately priced neighborhoods north of Los Angeles International Airport, the study found "an average 18.6 percent higher property value in the quiet neighborhood, or 1.33 percent per dB of additional quiet."

A 1996 study funded by the Legislature of the State of Washington found that the proposed expansion of Seattle-Tacoma Airport would cost five nearby cities $500 million in property values and $22 million in real-estate tax revenue. The study of single-family homes found that "a housing unit in the immediate vicinity of the airport would sell for 10.1 percent more if it were located elsewhere." The Washington study also concluded: "All other things remaining equal, the value of a house and lot increases by about 3.4% for every quarter of a mile the house is farther away from being directly underneath the flight track of departing/approaching jet aircraft."

In 1997 Randall Bell, MAI, Certified General Real Estate Appraiser, licensed real estate broker, and instructor for the Appraisal Institute, provided the results of his own professional analysis to the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Comparing sales of 190 comparable properties over six months in communities near Los Angeles International Airport, John Wayne Airport, and Ontario Airport, Bell found a diminution in value due to airport proximity averaging 27.4 percent.

Right to Quiet Society Newsletter, Spring 2002

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