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Report: Subway Noise Can Be Dangerous To Your Ears

Trains Reach Up To 102 Decibels As They Pull Into Stations, Report Says
A subway train at 42nd Street - Times Square - Jan. 28, 2013 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

FILE – A subway train (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A published report Monday said the sound of metal against metal in the subway can be harmful to your ears.

Dr. Chris Herget, an audiologist at New York City Hearing and Balance in Midtown, told amNewYork that the trains can stress out the ears. The trains reach between 92 and 102 decibels as they pull into stations – a level that Herget told the paper is safe only for up to 15 minutes.

And while trains enter and leave quickly, the cumulative effect of the noise can result in such problems as tinnitus, he told the paper. The damage would not be seen immediately, but would be noticeable over several years, Herget told the newspaper.

A 2009 study in the American Journal of Public Health came to similar conclusions, the newspaper reported.

Some subway riders who talked with 1010 WINS’ John Montone said the noise is indeed intolerable.

Jamal from Brooklyn had to remove his headphones when Montone asked him about it, and he said it is irritating to his ears. He drowned out the noise with “Sweet Dreams” by Beyonce.

A newsstand operator at the 42nd Street-Times Square station said the subway sound is deafening.

He told Montone earplugs aren’t an option, because it is already hard enough to understand announcements on the public address system. And the newsstand operator said he would not be able to hear his customers.

But two women from Brooklyn who have been riding the subway for 40 years said the noise never bothered them.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been trying to quiet down the subway since the mid-1970s, with such measures as lubricating tracks on sharp curves, introducing quieter train wheels, and installing composite brake shoes on the cars, the newspaper reported.

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