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Popping Balloons Can Cause Hearing Loss

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By    |   Tuesday, 31 Jan 2017 11:54 AM


Popping a balloon can generate the same amount of noise as a high-powered shotgun going off, say researchers at Canada's University of Alberta. In fact, firing a bullet from a 12-gauge shotgun is actually a bit quieter than the bang from a balloon that's blown up until it explodes.


Popping balloons can be as loud as 168 decibels, say the researchers, and hearing a noise louder than 140 decibels just once can cause permanent damage.


Even so, the researchers aren't telling people, including children, not to have fun with balloons.


"This research is a conversation starter," said hearing expert Bill Hodgetts, an associate professor of audiology. "We are not saying don't play with balloons and don't have fun, just try to guard against popping them."


Although the loudest noise was made when a balloon was blown up until it exploded, Hodgetts and colleague Dylan Scott found that even balloons squeezed until they pop or popped with a pin — common occurrences at children's parties — emit enough noise to damage hearing.


"Hearing loss is insidious," he continued. "Every loud noise that occurs has a potential lifelong impact. We want people to be mindful of hearing damage over a lifetime, because once you get to the back end of life, no hearing aid is as good as the once healthy built-in system in your inner ear."


"It's amazing how loud the balloons are," Scott said. "Nobody would let their child shoot something that loud without hearing protection, but balloons don't cross people's minds."
Hearing damage occurs when the delicate hair cells in the inner ear, which don't regrow, are damaged by noise.


"We need to think about our hearing health just like we think about our overall health," he said. "Hearing loss is one of those invisible problems — until you have it, you don't even think about it. Once you have it, it impacts everything."


The World Health Organization suggests that 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults worldwide are at risk of facing hearing loss or damage. They indicated that the biggest danger came from ear buds used in cellphones and iPads, but also singled out loud entertainment venues as causes of permanent hearing damage.


Hearing loss becomes more common as we age with 1 in 3 people having hearing loss by the age of 65.

 

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Popping a balloon can generate the same amount of noise as a high-powered shotgun going off, say researchers at Canada's University of Alberta. In fact, firing a bullet from a 12-gauge shotgun is actually a bit quieter than the bang from a balloon that's blown up until it...
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Tuesday, 31 Jan 2017 11:54 AM
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