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6 Surprising Ways You're Wrecking Your Hearing

Chainsaws, front-row stadium seats, and that huge pair of headphones could be putting the hurt on your eardrums.

A study conducted in downtown London found that living near traffic noise that reaches 60 decibels makes you more likely to have heart problems and ups your risk of death from all causes, reports the European Heart Journal. Researchers think all that noise raises blood pressure and stress, harming your heart—and, if you're exposed for a long time, hammering your hearing.

Of course, 60 dB isn't really that loud—but then again, the World Health Organization considers 55 decibels the threshold [PDF] for healthy everyday listening. It gets worse: Motorcycles can get as loud as 95 db, and ambulance or police sirens can get as loud as a whopping 120 db.

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Even public transit types aren't immune. A braking subway train screeches up to 100 db, which the average person's ears can only tolerate for about 15 minutes per day.

Think that sounds bad (pun intended)?  Here are five other noisy things that could be putting the hurt on your eardrums—and may be destroying your hearing in the long term:

1. Listening to Music Through Headphones

Most guys don't think twice about cranking up the volume on their huge headphones during their daily grind. But disregarding safe listening levels now could mean denting your eardrums later on.

Playing music at full blast can subject your ears to noise as loud as 136 db, which your eardrums can tolerate for less then 10 seconds per day before you risk hearing loss, according to the World Health Organization. If you're forced to crank up the volume because of background noise, then consider noise-canceling headphones, so you can fully absorb all those guitar solos at a safer volume without external distractions.

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2. Mowing Your Lawn

Trying to get that grass clipped so you can get on with your weekend? Hustle up, dude—for the sake of your ears. Lawn mowers reach up to 90 db, which is just enough to be hazardous to your hearing after two hours, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And if you're about to embark on a marathon mowing session, wear earplugs or headphones—that's what all the professionals do.

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3. Using Power Tools

Next time you're ripping plywood or hammering through your master-home-improvement-project, remember to wear ear protection. Heavy-duty machinery and power tools (which some guys wield for a living) can definitely hurt your hearing, especially if you're working in close quarters or without earplugs. Some everyday tools—belt sanders (93 dB), hand drills (98 dB), and impact wrenches (103 dB)—get surprisingly loud, not to mention heavy-duty gear like industrial-grade spray-painters (105 dB), chainsaws (110 dB), and jackhammers (110 dB).

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4. Going to a Bar, Nightclub, or Concert

Bars and nightclubs can range from 104 db to 112 dB—and your eardrums can handle that maximum volume for about a minute. Concerts get even more ear-splitting, with bands sometimes reaching around 115 db. "Patrons may expose themselves to the same level of loudness in 15 minutes of music at 100 dB that an industrial worker gets in an 8-hour day at 85dB," says the WHO (not to be confused with British rockers The Who, who famously set an unofficial record with a 126-dB performance at The Valley in London in 1976.)

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5. Attending a Sporting Event

There's no denying the adrenaline rush that comes with watching a real live sporting event, but they can get loud—to say nothing of sonic booms like the Seattle Seahawks Beast Quake (137.6 dB) or the record-setting roar at Arrowhead Stadium (142.2 dB). And it's not just football: "The average noise exposure during the Football World Cup in 2010 was as high as 100.5 dB," per WHO.

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