Can Balloons Cause Hearing Loss?


Bill Hodgetts and Dylan Scott have been to their fair share of children’s birthday parties. As hearing experts from the University of Alberta, they are trained to look at the world from a researcher’s perspective. It was at one of these parties where they found themselves wondering how loud the pop of a party balloon really is.

How Loud is a Balloon Pop?

balloon bouquets

To answer this question, Hodgetts and Scott had to go to the source. They went to their local party supply store and bought a standard bag of balloons. They then ran a series of experiments and measured the results.

Blown up balloons that were popped by a pin measured 155 dB. Those popped by hand measured 159 dB. The loudest pop came from a balloon that was inflated until it popped. At close range, the sound of this balloon rupturing measured 168 dB, louder than the blast of a pistol (167 dB) or a 12-gauge shotgun (162 dB).

How Loud is Too Loud?

Alright, so now that we know how loud the pop of a balloon can be, what does that mean?

As your Los Angeles audiologist explains it, sounds are measured in decibels. Anything over 85 dB can cause noise-induced hearing loss. To put this in perspective:

  • Exposure to sound over 85 dB (busy Manchester traffic) can cause damage within 8 hours
  • Exposure to sound over 100 dB (chainsaw) can cause damage within 15 minutes
  • Exposure to sound over 120 dB (jackhammer) can cause damage instantly

Noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common (behind only hearing loss related to normal aging) and most preventable type.

Your Manchester hearing specialists estimate that 15 percent of individuals in New Hampshire and around the country between the ages of 20 and 69 are experiencing hearing loss that is the result of exposure to excessive noise either at work or through recreational activities.

What Do the Results Mean?

You are probably asking yourself, what do these results actually mean? Hodgetts and Scott don’t think their results will lead to the demise of the party balloon industry, but they are hoping they can help spread awareness.

If anything, you can teach your children how to handle balloons safely. This can prevent an accidental popping, which can put them at risk of damaging their hearing.

To learn more about protecting yourself or your children from noise-induced hearing loss, contact your Los Angeles audiologist.