BOOM! BANG! Such sounds, and even wind noise, if loud enough, can pose hearing-damage risks to cyclists, a new study says.
While cycling – on bicycles, as opposed to motorcycles – has long been heralded as a good source of exercise and an excellent excuse to dress in funny outfits, often decorated with non-sponsoring sponsors’ badges, it’s never before been cited, to our knowledge, as a potential source of hearing damage.
But there you are: Researchers are going all sorts of strange places these days.
The research was conducted by study co-leader Dr. Anna Wertz and colleagues in, of all places, Detroit, Michigan (home of Henry Ford’s pioneering automobile plant), under the auspices of Henry Ford Hospital, where Dr. Wertz is an otolaryngologist. (That’s a popular one in the ‘list of hard-to-pronounce words’!)
For the cycling-related study, microphones were attached to cyclists’ ears to measure wind noise at various speeds. Wind noise ranged from 85 decibels at 15 mph to 120 decibels at 60 mph.
“These findings are important because noise-induced hearing loss can begin with sounds at or above 85 decibels,” said study co-leader Dr. Anna Wertz. How loud is that? Heavy city traffic registers 85 decibels; an ambulance siren or a clap of thunder from a nearby storm can reach 120 decibels, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
“Short-term exposure to loud sounds isn’t likely to have a lasting effect on hearing, but prolonged or repeated exposure can lead to permanent damage,” Wertz added in a hospital news release.