The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is a crucial factor to consider when selecting ear muffs for hearing protection.

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  1. What Is Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)?

    • The NRR indicates an ear protection device’s ability to reduce external noise reaching the user’s ears.
    • It serves as the official standard for attenuation in the USA and helps buyers choose suitable hearing protection devices (HPDs).
    • An HPD with an NRR of 31, for instance, can ideally reduce noise by 31 decibels (dB) in controlled lab conditions.
  2. How Much Noise Reduction Do You Need?

    • First, determine how much noise reduction you require.
    • According to the U.S. CDC:
      • Approximately 22 million Americans are exposed to hazardous workplace noise annually.
      • One in three Americans experiences noise levels above 70 dB.
    • Here are the recommended thresholds for excessive noise exposure:
      • 8 hours: Maximum permissible noise level is 85 dBA (NIOSH REL) or 90 dBA (OSHA PEL).
      • 4 hours: Maximum permissible noise level is 88 dBA (NIOSH REL) or 95 dBA (OSHA PEL).
      • 2 hours: Maximum permissible noise level is 91 dBA (NIOSH REL) or 100 dBA (OSHA PEL).
      • 1 hour: Maximum permissible noise level is 94 dBA (NIOSH REL) or 105 dBA (OSHA PEL).
      • 30 minutes: Maximum permissible noise level is 97 dBA (NIOSH REL) or 110 dBA (OSHA PEL).
      • 15 minutes: Maximum permissible noise level is 100 dBA (NIOSH REL) or 115 dBA (OSHA PEL).
  3. Choosing Ear Muffs:

    • To protect your hearing effectively, look for ear muffs with an attenuation rating of at least 25 dB (100 – 85 = 25).
    • An ear muff with a dB rating of 85 dB (A) or lower is considered good for hearing protection.
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