Sunday, October 4, 2009

Do You Travel By the Subway?

Every week more than 33 million people travel by the mass transit system in the United States. This transit system has been considered one of the safest modes to commute but health studies are associating it with various environmental risks such as loud noise. Noise often surpasses the safe level in these transit systems and according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, transit noise can result in hearing loss among the passengers.

In the city of New York, the Metropolitan Transit Authority subways have the highest average noise level that could result in hearing loss. Based on estimations, noise induced hearing loss; a permanent health problem can affect over 10 million people in the US and 30 million people across the globe. Daily exposure of 70 dBA and less has been recommended for 24 hours by the World Health Organization and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But noise level at a subway is approximately 80 dBA which makes it essential for commuters to use noise protection devices.

So what are daily passengers to do? Scientists believe that even though quieter equipment and increased maintenance of transit infrastructure is required, commuters can use personal protection to avoid hearing problems. Earbuds and headphones are not very effective in reducing exposure to noise but there are special earmuffs and earplugs available that can lessen the noise level when travelling through subways.

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