There is something very exciting about attending a NASCAR race. The sounds, the smells, and the incredible cars and drivers all come together to make it a remarkable experience. Something many do not consider, though is the noise levels and how they can harm your hearing. An audiologist recent research shows that noise levels at NASCAR races are up to 900 times higher than the daily OSHA recommendation. These researchers explain that both participants and spectators can suffer substantial hearing loss or experience tinnitus if they attend these races continuously without wearing hearing protection.
The research study looked at three of the most popular NASCAR race tracks and indicated that fans, drivers, and crews were exposed repeatedly to very dangerous levels of noise. During the average eight-hour work day, the legal noise level is 85 decibels. During a NASCAR race, the noise levels can exceed 50 to 900 times this level. The study also showed sound pressure levels of up to 140 decibels.
When preparing for and running in a car race, research showed that the race team members, including mechanics, drivers, and the pit crew were exposed to between 12 and 21 hours of extremely dangerous noise every week and these team members work up to 40 weeks in a row.
According to the Director of National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, these research results are very important and should be read and heeded by all involved in NASCAR racing.
NASCAR team members are very proud of being involved in a long-held tradition, however, they should also be aware that being exposed to excessive noise levels every day for weeks at a time can lead to tinnitus and hearing loss. They should always wear hearing protection to lessen the risk of permanent hearing damage.
Spectators are also at risk when attending NASCAR races, even if they are not experiencing the same continuous exposure as the team members. In fact, since spectators do not typically wear any type of hearing protection, they are being exposed to higher noise levels than the team members who normally wear custom-molded earplugs.
The study’s results indicated that spectators continuously experience up to 96 decibels of noise when they are attending a race. This is two to ten times more than a normal person should experience during a 40 hour work week.
Part of the attraction of NASCAR is the noise and the power of the car engines. This makes the event fun, but spectators should consider wearing hearing protection during the actual race to help prevent hearing loss.