Written by on 4 August, 2017



New research published by RNID – the largest charity representing the nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK – has revealed that noise in Britain’s clubs has reached damaging levels.

The report A noise hangover?, based on the findings of a covert survey of fifteen nightclubs in five UK cities – London, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast, showed that most nightclubs failed to provide adequate chillout rooms, and noise levels were found to be damaging.

The survey measured noise levels on Friday nights and the early hours of the following morning in three different areas within each club – the dance floor, the bar and the chillout area. It found that in some venues, the noise was so loud on the dance floor – sometimes as loud as an aircraft taking off (approx 110dB). For clubbers that were regularly exposed to such loud music, the cumulative effect could be very damaging. Someone who goes clubbing once a week could potentially be putting their hearing at risk, even if they only spend a few minutes on the dance floor on each occasion.

Out of the fifteen nightclubs surveyed, three didn’t provide any obvious chillout areas – or if they did, these areas were closed on the evening the survey took place. In the remaining twelve nightclubs, noise levels in the supposedly quieter areas averaged 92.3 dB – 16 times the sound energy recommended for the workplace. In one club, the chillout area proved to be even louder than the dance floor! However, the names of the clubs surveyed, including the worse offenders, will not be revealed.

Dr John Low, RNID Chief Executive, commented “The lack of adequate chillout space for clubbers is worrying as it means that people aren’t able to take breaks from loud noise even if they want to. Lots of clubbers have told us they were not aware that the level of the music played in nightclubs is potentially harmful, and many wrongly believed that noise levels were regulated. The reality is that noise levels vary tremendously from club to club, with many reaching potentially damaging levels, and there is no legislation in place to protect the clubber.”

However, Dr Low was quick to dismiss any claims that RNID were party poopers: “RNID doesn’t want to discourage people from clubbing or call for legislation to lower volume. Instead we want club owners to act responsibly by providing clear information about noise levels and the effect on their customer’s hearing. Unless owners provide ample ‘safe’ chillout space, and start alerting their customers to the risks associated with excessive noise exposure, we are potentially storing up trouble for the future. It’s like sunbathing – if you understand the risks and choose to ignore them, that’s your decision, but if you’re not told about the potential consequences how can you make an informed choice?”

Previous research had shown than three out of four people who regularly go clubbing have experienced the warning signs of hearing damage following a night out, ie ringing in the ears or dullness of hearing. Subsequently, RNID launched a campaign, Don’t Lose the Music targeting 18-30 year olds to warn them about the dangers of prolonged exposure to loud music.

The survey took into account three different types of club – cheesy pop, dance and drum ‘n’ bass. While no difference was detected between nightclubs playing the different types of music, drum ‘n’ bass clubs in three of the cities surveyed were consistently the loudest averaging 106.5dB – louder than a pneumatic drill 10ft away.


The RNID has called for club owners to:

1. Provide chillout space where noise levels don’t exceed 80dB(A).
2. Publish noise levels for the dance floor, the bar and the chillout area, where they can be seen by staff and the public and display consumer-friendly signs advising about hearing protection
3. Provide earplugs for free or make available ones to buy.

They have also called for clubbers to:

1. Protect themselves by taking regular breaks from loud music.
2. Wear earplugs if regularly exposed
3. Make a conscious effort not to stand by loudspeakers


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