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Study: Manhattan Street Noise May Be Deafening

NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880/ 1010 WINS) -- If you're visiting New York City, the hustle, bustle and noise are part of what makes your stay here exciting.

If you live here, those are some of the things you just get used to.

But as CBS 2's Don Dahler reports, new research strongly suggests that constant noise is damaging your ears.


WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reports


1010 WINS' John Montone reports

Crowds, trucks, sirens … they are all the music of Manhattan.

Walk down almost any street in the city, and your ears are under attack. A new study released Wednesday at the International Conference of Urban Health sounds a warning about all this sound.

Ninety-eight percent of measurements taken in 60 spots around the city were above 70 decibels, which doctors say can cause irreversible damage over time.

And researchers say it's not just the horns or the trucks or the construction, it's the constant onslaught of all this noise that's doing the damage.

The noisiest places in the city according to the study were Times Square, First Avenue above 14th Street, Broadway in Inwood, and the Upper East Side.

The results shocked no one in Times Square.

"It doesn't really surprise me, although I hadn't really thought about it much. But now it makes sense, considering how contained it is," said Pilita Danesh of Williamsburg.

When asked if he thinks New Yorkers are just used to all the noise, Michael Burton, originally from Philadelphia, said, "We probably are. We probably get some kind of immunity to it. But it is actually surprising to hear."

Jimmy McMillan said rent may be too damn high, but he doesn't think the noise level is.

"We all know New York has a little noise, but we're getting old, and I think most of the older generation that the eardrums are sensitive," McMillan said before being interrupted by a passerby. "Thank you sir," he continued. "Rent is too damn high."

But the authors of the study aren't laughing. They suggest wearing ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones. Hearing loss is completely preventable, and permanent.

The study also shows that even in parks around the city the noise levels measured above 70 decibels, which means there aren't many places you can go for an escape.

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