I’m writing in response to the article in the Sports section of The Telegram of Tuesday, Feb. 19, titled: “Sound decision: You can have a blast at the Clarenville Events Centre, just not with an air horn.”
The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association-Newfoundland and Labrador (CHHA-NL) wishes to recognize and applaud the decision of Clarenville Events Centre manager Todd Cole to ban the use of aerosol air horns during events at the centre.
The association is also pleased that the manager recognized, and promptly responded to, the seriousness of fans’ complaints about the potential hazard to one’s hearing from exposure to these air horns. While they come in various container sizes, they carry warnings about the extremely high levels of noise due to their compression air feature, which causes, “a reed or diaphragm to vibrate and emit sound waves which are then amplified by the horn portion of the device.”
While it is understandable that those who use the air horns will be upset by the ban (after all, they’re just having fun) and feel that they’re doing nothing wrong, the facts tell another story. Air horns can have sound decibels (dB) of 120 db or more, which is 35 dB louder than the level considered safe by government workplace regulations.
Unfortunately, no provincial legislation exists to regulate noise from recreational or non-work related activities in Newfoundland and Labrador. Some municipalities do have noise bylaws, however it seems these are seldom enforced, or attempts to do so have been ignored.
It was noted in the article that the use of air horns is being banned in many recreational facilities, which the CHHA-NL believes is a good trend. Unfortunately, hearing loss is fast becoming the No. 1 health issue around the world, especially among young people, who are exposing themselves to longer and louder periods of excessive noise levels. Many recreational activities today (snowmobiles, personal watercraft, all-terrain vehicles, super-sized car stereos) come with loud noise levels attached.
Most people don’t give any thought to the need to protect their hearing; however, many will use often safety helmets, goggles, clothing and other protective measures. In fact, it almost seems to be an ingrained response by many that the louder, the better, especially in a party or celebratory atmosphere (like hockey arenas).
As I noted in a letter I wrote to The Telegram last summer (“Listen up: motorcycles, noise and hearing loss,” Aug. 6, 2012), “Hearing health experts around the world are sounding the alarm bells, to anyone who will listen, which isn’t that many at the moment, that society will be dealing with a booming hearing loss epidemic over the next five to 10 years. The effects of hearing loss can be devastating — social isolation, negative self-image, significant communication challenges in school and out, not being able to understand music, movies, family members, getting educated, finding and keeping work, and the list goes on.”
The dangers to anyone’s quality of life from over-exposure to noise are many, and unfortunately as I’ve noted, the awareness of the dangers of noise is not so great.
Everyone needs to be more aware of the dangers to their hearing and quality of life from over-exposure to loud sounds, regardless of the source, whether it’s from air horns at hockey games at the Clarenville Events Centre, at another sports or recreational venue in the province, or anywhere where people are over-exposed to noise.
Having fun doesn’t have to come with excessive noise that is irritating or damaging (potentially or otherwise) to a person’s hearing. It also does not need to include tinnitus, which is an intermittent or continuous ringing in the ears that often comes from over-exposure to noise.
In closing, the association would like to once again commend Mr. Cole and the Clarenville Events Centre for taking positive action that will protect the hearing of fans, players, officials and workers for many years to come.
If you have questions or concerns about hearing loss, tinnitus, or how you can do more to protect your hearing, please contact the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association-Newfoundland and Labrador at 1-888-753-3224, (709) 753-3224, by text at 709-725-3224, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.chha-nl.ca
Leon A. Mills is executive director of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association — Newfoundland and Labrador.