In this day and age, everything is bad for you. That includes the New York City Subway. No, not air pollution and not the folks rubbing up against you… Not even the man who decides to sit next to you while wearing his birthday suit.
The noise inside the subway stations can reach dangerously high decibels at times. Not only are the trains and subways loud, but music played by visiting entertainers can be equally disturbing. A 2013 article in Newsday written by Dan Rivoli noted that noise in stations like Times Square can reach up to 102 decibels.
The same article quoted Dr. Chris Herget, an audiologist who practices at New York, as stating, “Even though trains can enter and leave stations quickly, repeatedly being exposed to that level of sound from a platform can, over time, contribute to hearing issues such as tinnitus, the ringing in one's ear.”
On top of sounds that include steel wheels clanking against the rails, screeching brakes and the commotion of riders, you also have to factor in music by street musicians. Some of the musicians crank up their amplifiers a little louder than most would enjoy allowing speakers to hit notes that can reach up to 110 decibels if not more.
In 2006, the New York Times reported that researchers took 57 different noise level readings throughout the city at different sub stations. They recorded anything between 85 and 106 decibels. That article, written by Nicholas Bakalar, said that you should not listen to anything above 105 decibels for 30-seconds or longer.
While the sound level of the subways have been heavily debated over the years, a 2005 New York City Noise Code specifies what is allowable and what is not allowable in the subway stations. The codes state that the noise level should not be above 85 decibels in the transit stations. Evidently, that's a dream number.
Now you know.