Apple Hearing Study
Apple’s ongoing hearing study, in partnership with the University of Michigan, shared an update for International Noise Awareness Day with some bad news for Americans.
A hearing study was launched in November 2019 with the aim of determining the effects of long-term sound exposure on people. The study is open to anyone and uses data from the Apple Watch Noise app.
An update from the study was released on Wednesday with information about American’s exposure to excessive noise. Big picture, 1 in 3 adult Americans are exposed to excessive noise — or about 77 million people.
The data from the study wasn’t overly surprising and was weighted with information from each state by age, sex at birth, and race. Approximately 130,000 volunteers submitted data using the Apple Research app from November 2019 to December 2022.
The data was compiled to determine who was consistently exposed to sound above the annual 70 decibels average limit defined by the WHO and US EPA. The data exposed the expected cultural biases — people exposed to more noise were younger, Black or Hispanic, or male by a thin margin.
The larger the population density, the more noise people were exposed to on average. Puerto Rico saw the highest percentage of people exposed to excessive noise at 44%, with California, Texas, Florida, and New York also ranking high.
US Adults Exposed to Excessive Noise Pollution. Image credit: Apple Hearing Study
People are regularly exposed to all kinds of noise, and this report specifically focused on the average decibel measurement over a year. Hearing loud noise for a few moments isn’t going to cause permanent damage, though people are encouraged to balance the loud with the quiet.
A few tips were provided by the study. People should move away from loud noise or take “quiet breaks” when around loud environments. Hearing protection is also a must, and people should try to choose quieter appliances when shopping.
To join in the Apple Hearing Study or other research, iPhone users can download the Apple Research app from the App Store. Some studies require specific devices or equipment, but all are free to join.