Dangerous decibels at Indianapolis Motor Speedway could cause permanent hearing damage

Full pack of Indy cars registers at 140 decibels

INDIANAPOLIS - Race fans love that powerful sound of those Indy cars circling the track, but although it's thrilling for the senses, it's damaging to the ears.

RTV6 took a decibel meter to the track where the noise is enough to cause permanent hearing loss, even in the garages.

"Research shows that anywhere higher than 85 decibels in over as few as 10 to 15 minutes exposure time can cause some hearing loss," said Beth Tysklind, an audiologist at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital. "Sometimes it will start as a temporary hearing loss, and then the more exposure you get to loud noises, then eventually it can become a permanent hearing loss."

Tysklind calls the decibel levels at the track very dangerous, and she says kids are even more at risk.

"The little ears that children have, actually they are more susceptible to the high intensity noises because of their small ear canals and more concentrated noise than the adults," she said.

Lynne Huntting has been covering IndyCar for 20 years, and she's paid the price.

"Early on I wasn't wise and didn't use the proper (points to headphones)," she said. "Now I wear a hearing aid. So yes, (it's) very critical. Everyone should have one any time cars are on the course."

A single Indy car can produce 128 decibels, and a full pack of 33 cars -- a deafening 140, the equivalent of being about 50 feet behind a Boeing 737 at take-off.

Tysklind said those foam ear plugs do work well as long as they're inserted correctly -- that means rolled first and allowed to expand in the ear -- but they're hard to get into little ears. She recommends the ear muffs for kids under 3, since the foam earplugs can be a choking hazard too.


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