How Many Decibels Can Kill You?

We listen to all kinds of sounds every day. Honking, music, speech, etc are the sounds we listen to almost every day. But do you think sound can kill you? If yes, how many decibels can kill you?

In this new article, we will look at some of the effects of sounds and whether they can kill or inflict physical injury. Use the table of content below to navigate through this content. Click on any of the topics to jump to that particular article.

What is sound?

Physics defined sound as a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium. Human beings regard the reception of these waves as sounds.

Both humans and animals use our ears to receive sound waves. However, every animal has a different hearing range. This makes it possible for some animals to hear some sounds that others can not hear.

In a layman’s understanding, we could describe the sound as anything that we hear. The intensity of sound waves is measured in decibels of sound pressure level (dB SPL). The sound frequency is also measured in Hertz (Hz). The human hearing threshold is set at 0 dB or 1000 Hz.

You can see an example of sound levels below.

  • 0 dB: Hearing threshold
  • 20 dB: Leaves fluttering
  • 30 dB: Whisper in the ear
  • 60 dB: Normal speech conversation for a participant
  • 60-100 dB: Motor vehicles for a close observer
  • 120 dB: Airplane taking off for a close observer
  • 120-140 dB: Pain threshold

How Many Decibels Can Kill You?

It is quite sceptical if you think about sound being able to kill someone. But it is a fact. Sound can actually kill people. Science has proven beyond doubt that sound can actually kill.

Sound is considered dangerous when it hits above 85 dB. According to World Health Organization (WHO), the recommended residential noises should not exceed 50dB. Anything above that is not healthy.

Prolonged hours of exposure to noise even below 85 dB could cause hearing loss. Anything close to 120 dB could burst your ear drums and when it is 150 dB and above, it could cause life threatening issues.

If sound will kill you, scientists believe it should be above 200 dB. When sound waves with such a level of pressure is generated, it could cause your organs or even your head to explode. Such a high intensity of sound can not be achieved easily.


Infrasound is a referred to as a low frequency sound. This sound can not be perceived or most of the time heard by humans because it is always below 20 Hz.

Even though it is difficult to hear this low frequency sound, it could still harm you. It can directly affect your nevours system depending on the level and cause life threatening issues.

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