Noise levels among spectators at an intercollegiate sporting event

Am J Audiol. 2014 Mar;23(1):71-8. doi: 10.1044/1059-0889(2013/12-0071).


Purpose: The intensity of noise levels in a basketball arena during games, as well as the hearing sensitivity of attendees, was measured for the purpose of assessing the impact of the noise on hearing thresholds.

Method: Noise levels at 10 intercollegiate basketball games were measured with a dosimeter affixed on the shoulders of attendees. Hearing thresholds and distortion product otoacoustic emissions were measured for 20 participants just before attending a basketball game and within an hour of the end of the game to determine whether changes in hearing thresholds resulted from exposure to the sound levels within the arena during the games.

Results: Participants demonstrated temporary shifts in pure-tone thresholds and reductions in the intensity of their otoacoustic emissions after attendance at 1 of the basketball games. Dosimeter measurements showed that noise at 6 of the 10 basketball games exceeded acceptable intensity levels when compared with a national workplace noise exposure standard.

Conclusion: Although noise intensities, on average, did not exceed workplace exposure standards, universities would be wise to be proactive in warning spectators about the potential dangers of noise exposure at sporting events, make earplugs available to interested spectators, and implement a hearing conservation program for employees working in noise.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Threshold*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise / adverse effects*
  • Otoacoustic Emissions, Spontaneous*
  • Sports*
  • Young Adult