The Real And Not-So-Real Dangers of Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise canceling headphones offer a number of benefits. They block outside noise from interfering with your listening. In many cases this means you can listen at a lower volume because the sound in your headphones doesn’t have to compete with outside noise. However, this very same benefit can also be dangerous. Noise canceling headphones work in two basic ways. They can actively play noise that produces an opposite sound to the ambient noise. They can also block noise passively by physically preventing outside sound to reach your ears. Pedestrian Dangers Often the time that you want to wear noise canceling headphones is often the most dangerous. If you wear them when you’re out and about, you may miss warnings. For example, if you’re wearing noise canceling headphones while walking you can easily miss the sounds of a car honking or a bicycle coming up quickly behind you. Driving Dangers Similar to walking when wearing headphones, there are similar dangers. If you’re using noise canceling headphones while you’re driving you can miss approaching sirens and cars honking. Hearing Dangers Unless you continue to listen to music at a high volume, noise canceling headphones are actually better for your hearing than traditional headphones. They allow users to turn down the volume because there’s no competition with outside noise. Radiation Dangers Many people wonder if there are radiation dangers like there is with cell phones. The answer is no. Noise canceling headphones do not emit any radiation. Relaxation and Positive Hormones According to a study published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America in March, 2001 Austrian children who live in noisy neighborhoods with an abundance of low-level noise have higher levels of cortisol which is a hormone released during times of stress. It can cause harm to your body, including a higher risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Passive versus Active Noise Canceling Headphones Active noise canceling headphones strive to create a sound that opposes and thus blocks outside ambient noise. This means they’re generally safer than passive noise canceling headphones. This is because sudden noises like sirens, honking and even yelling won’t be blocked out. If the level of the sound coming through the headphones is set to a reasonable level, the listener will hear most emergency related sounds. Passive noise canceling headphones can block out all sound thus leaving the listener in a potentially dangerous situation. The Bottom Line on Noise Canceling Headphones Noise canceling headphones are safer than traditional headphones. While both active and passive provide benefits, active noise canceling headphones are the safest choice. They allow emergency related sounds to be heard while also making it possible to turn down the volume and listen at a lower level. Noise canceling headphones also block stressful traffic and city noise and can be good for a person’s health.


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