“No birthday party is complete without balloons – just as long as they don’t burst,” Becky Fletcher at netdoctor.co.uk cautions. “Scientists have warned that popping balloons can be louder than blasts from a shotgun, and may lead to permanent hearing loss.” The survey said!
Using ear protection and a high-pressure microphone, University of Alberta scientists measured the noise of balloons being popped with a pin, blowing them up until they popped and finally crushing them until they burst. The loudest noise made by a balloon (being blown up until it ruptured) was 168 decibels – four times higher than a 12-gauge shotgun. The other two methods still produced noises that were still a ‘concern.'”
You can tell it’s a British website; Ms. Fletcher felt compelled to mention that the researchers wore ear protection. As should anyone shooting a firearm. Or popping balloons?
And now a message from the American Speech-Language Association:
Exposure to noise greater than 140 dB can permanently damage hearing. Almost all firearms create noise that is over the 140-dB level. A small .22-caliber rifle can produce noise around 140 dB, while big-bore rifles and pistols can produce sound over 175 dB.
Firing guns in a place where sounds can reverberate, or bounce off walls and other structures, can make noises louder and increase the risk of hearing loss. Also, adding muzzle brakes or other modifications can make the firearm louder. People who do not wear hearing protection while shooting can suffer a severe hearing loss with as little as one shot, if the conditions are right.
Roll on, Hearing Protection Act!
Meanwhile, my Google-fu reveals that a Remington 11-87 turkey 12 ga. (3” ammo) w/choke generates 161.5db. Which makes the Remmy less noisy than a 168db balloon burst (not four times as loud). The same chart shows that a .357 Ruger GP100 generates the same db level as the balloon.
I reckon it’s only a matter of time before Nanny State UK bans balloons. I hope I’m kidding. But I’m not joking when I say that the idea of testing gunfire on chinchillas’ ears would surely elicit howls of protest. And yes I called your Shirley.