When it’s not holding straphangers hostage for several hours on a Friday, the subway is also responsible for gradually making us deaf!
Working with am New York, an audiologist used a sound measuring device to determine that trains arriving and leaving various city stations produce noise that ranges from 92 to 102 decibels, which can directly contribute to hearing loss if experienced at sustained intervals. For comparison, a battery-powered pencil sharpener is roughly 71 decibels, a chain saw is around 110 decibels and a 12 gauge shotgun blast is 165 decibels, according to the CDC.
Ear plugs would decrease the problem dramatically, but unfortunately, most passengers would rather just cease hearing at all than risk looking subtly unfashionable.
The MTA is aware of this problem, and has thus been trying to quiet the 109-year-old system for the past 35 years by “lubricating tracks on sharp curves, using quieter train wheels, and installing composite brake shoes on all subway cars to stop wheels from screeching,” spokesman Kevin Ortiz told the paper.
But even those improvements aren’t enough to preserve the hearing of MTA workers, many of whom retire “legally deaf,” said Tom Carrano, director of subway safety at the Transport Workers Union Local 100.
This, of course, isn’t new. Then again, once passengers can finally talk on their cell phones for the duration of their trip, deafness might be a welcome intervention.