Most of the time, Tennesseans don’t realize that they are putting their hearing at risk. Hearing loss tends to develop over time, often over decades, and sometimes, it’s the things we love doing that are the root cause. For instance, live music can be devastating for our hearing. Amplified performances can create 120db of noise, well above the 80db experts suggest is the threshold for causing auditory damage. Automobiles and trucks can be just as harmful. Cities like Nashville and Knoxville have neighborhoods that rank among America’s noisiest – generating a steady hum which often exceeds that 80db limit.
If you live near places like Nashville International Airport, that can add another layer of noise. However, even rural settings can be dangerous for your hearing. Hunting is hugely popular across the Volunteer State, but putting on protective equipment is less common. One study found that 95% of American hunters had gone without hearing protection at least once in the past year. With gunshots generating 140db of noise, just one shot can permanently damage your hearing.
Finally, from the state’s famous distilleries to its coal mines, airports, and military bases, workers across Tennessee are exposed to high noise levels every day, often without knowing the risks. This all adds up to a large number of people with some degree of hearing loss.