When buying earplugs, you may have some questions about many of the details listed in the product descriptions. Today I will be talking about decibel levels and sound blocking capacity. Decibel levels are measured in dB, going from 0 to 37 in earplug protection levels. 0dB would mean no reduction in noise and 37dB is highest reduction in noise any of our earplugs offer. Decibel sound levels are not linear, meaning going up by a set measurable amount, for example, 1dB-2dB and on (2dB-3dB) would all have the same measurable gap between them if they were linear. Instead, decibel measurements are accumulative (logarithmic). To put it simply when going from one decibel point to another, the measurable sound level (or reduction in the case of earplugs) grows more than it did the last time. An increase in 10 decibel points is an increase in noise reduction by 10 times: so 10db is 10 times quieter, 20db is 100 times quieter and 30db is 1000 times quieter than what you would hear without earplugs.

Just Online, stocks earplugs that reach the highest level of sound protection at 37dB, such as Moldex 7700 Pura Fit earplugs and E.A.R Earsoft FX. At a medium level of protection we stock Howard Leight and Bilsom Clarity earplugs. At the lowest level we have items such as Moldex Comets 6420, that protect your ears at a sound level of 25dB.

However, it’s not always sensible to get the highest level of protection, despite what common sense may tell you! There is such a thing as overprotection, overprotection means wearing earplugs that are too sound-blocking for your environment. For instance wearing earplugs that protect up to 37dB sound levels will cut out medium levels of sound that keep you safe. Say you are working in a warehouse and need to keep track of forklift trucks, alarms and warnings from supervisors, high sound protection ear plugs will cut out these essential sounds. The same could be said for musicians who need protection for their ears, but also need to pick up the complexity of tone and timbre in music. However, level 37dB earplugs would be useful for high noise work and activities that are undertaken up by yourself and don’t rely on awareness of too many external hazards.

Many earplugs will have a SNR (Single Number Rating) or NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) system, mostly on standardised foam earplugs that are non moldable. Moldable, expandable earplugs are rolled and squeezed to fit in the ear, and expand to fit the ear canal making them hard to categorise. You can click on a link below to see how SNR and NRR ratings work. SNR is more commonly used in Europe and NRR is more often used in America.

When buying earplugs you should think about whether you want products that stop sound getting in or stuff (water) getting in. Moldable expandable earplugs without a SNR or NRR rating will probably be designed for swimmers or those with dust and other allergies. Make sure you look out for dB sound protection descriptions and SNR\NRR ratings when buying products to protect your ears from sound.

Links to descriptions of SNR, NRR and dB systems:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/noise/goodpractice/hearingoverprotect.htm
http://www.elvex.com/NRR.htm
Links to products on the dB scale:

High, Moldex Pura Fit,   E.A.R. Earsoft FX

Medium, Howard Leight 1011239 smartfit multi-use corded earplug , https://www.justonline.co.uk/product/howard-leight-matrix-earplugs-blue-20-pairs/ , https://www.justonline.co.uk/product/howard-leight-bilsom-clarity-656-earplugs-1-pair/

Low, https://www.justonline.co.uk/product/moldex-comets-6420-earplugs-1-pair-reusable-washable-snr25db-against-lower-noise-levels/