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Comparative Examples of Noise Levels

Comparative Examples of Noise Sources, Decibels
& Their Effects

Noise Source
Decibel Level Decibel Effect
Jet take-off (at 25 meters)
150 Eardrum rupture
Aircraft carrier deck
140  
Military jet aircraft take-off from aircraft carrier with afterburner at 50 ft (130 dB).
130  
Thunderclap, chain saw. Oxygen torch (121 dB).
120 Painful. 32 times as loud as 70 dB.
Steel mill, auto horn at 1 meter. Turbo-fan aircraft at takeoff power at 200 ft (118 dB). Riveting machine (110 dB); live rock music (108 - 114 dB).
110 Average human pain threshold. 16 times as loud as 70 dB.
Jet take-off (at 305 meters), use of outboard motor, power lawn mower, motorcycle, farm tractor, jackhammer, garbage truck. Boeing 707 or DC-8 aircraft at one nautical mile (6080 ft) before landing (106 dB); jet flyover at 1000 feet (103 dB); Bell J-2A helicopter at 100 ft (100 dB).
100 8 times as loud as 70 dB. Serious damage possible in 8 hr exposure
Boeing 737 or DC-9 aircraft at one nautical mile (6080 ft) before landing (97 dB); power mower (96 dB); motorcycle at 25 ft (90 dB). Newspaper press (97 dB).
90 4 times as loud as 70 dB. Likely damage 8 hr exp
Garbage disposal, dishwasher, average factory, freight train (at 15 meters). Car wash at 20 ft (89 dB); propeller plane flyover at 1000 ft (88 dB); diesel truck 40 mph at 50 ft (84 dB); diesel train at 45 mph at 100 ft (83 dB). Food blender (88 dB); milling machine (85 dB); garbage disposal (80 dB).
80 2 times as loud as 70 dB. Possible damage in 8 hr exposure.
Passenger car at 65 mph at 25 ft (77 dB); freeway at 50 ft from pavement edge 10 a.m. (76 dB). Living room music (76 dB); radio or TV-audio, vacuum cleaner (70 dB).
70 Arbitrary base of comparison. Upper 70s are annoyingly loud to some people.
Conversation in restaurant, office, background music, Air conditioning unit at 100 ft
60 Half as loud as 70 dB. Fairly quiet
Quiet suburb, conversation at home. Large electrical transformers at 100 ft
50 One-fourth as loud as 70 dB.
Library, bird calls (44 dB); lowest limit of urban ambient sound
40 One-eighth as loud as 70 dB.
Quiet rural area
30 One-sixteenth as loud as 70 dB. Very Quiet
Whisper, rustling leaves
20  
Breathing
10 Barely audible

[modified from http://www.wenet.net/~hpb/dblevels.html] on 2/2000. 
SOURCES: Temple University Department of Civil/Environmental Engineering (www.temple.edu/departments/CETP/environ10.html), and Federal Agency Review of Selected Airport Noise Analysis Issues, Federal Interagency Committee on Noise (August 1992). Source of the information is attributed to Outdoor Noise and the Metropolitan Environment, M.C. Branch et al., Department of City Planning, City of Los Angeles, 1970.

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