DENVER -- If you’ve gone out to eat in Denver recently, you may have noticed one thing on the rise: the volume. A new study ranks Denver as the fourth loudest “foodie” city in the country.
The study, conducted by Oticon, measured the decibel level at multiple restaurants in ten major food cities. Denver averaged more than 80 decibels during a weekend dinner rush. That’s the volume inside an average factory, according to the company Industrial Noise Control.
“To give you an idea, OSHA - their action level is 85 db (decibels). So at 85 db, companies are required to provide hearing protection, hearing tests, they’re required to protect their employees from noise exposure,” clinical audiologist Dr. Jill Wayne told Denver7.
That makes it particularly difficult for people with hearing loss to enjoy a night out.
“It’s very hard to find a restaurant that’s not noisy here,” Marilyn Weinhouse told Denver7.
Weinhouse has bilateral sensory neural hearing loss, and is a member of the Denver Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association.
“They usually have loud music playing and lots of people and the environment is not really friendly for someone with hearing loss,” she said.
But while the study did focus on hearing loss (it was put together by a hearing aid company), local doctors say this is something that everyone should be aware of.
“Everyone should care about this. Hearing loss due to noise exposure is totally avoidable,” Dr. Wayne said.
But this puts restaurants in a tough spot. Not many people want to go out to eat to sit somewhere silent, but many patrons also don't want to go somewhere where you can't have a simple conversation.
“There’s a balancing act that I think restaurants need to take a look at,” Dr. Wayne said.
Neither the audiologist and the Hearing Loss Association member were calling for any kind of boycott or overhaul of the industry. Instead, they were hoping for awareness.
“Almost everyone knows someone with hearing loss or has a family with hearing loss,” Weinghouse said.
Something small to keep in mind the next time someone asks to turn the music down in a restaurant, prefers to sit in a corner booth or away from the open kitchen, or simply asks to go to dinner at an off time.