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Does not compute

May 1, 2012

In the future, concerts in Sweden might not be quite as loud as they are now. Dagens Nyheter* reports that the National Board of Health and Welfare (“Socialstyrelsen”) are considering a lowering of the allowed sound level from 100 dB to 97. Concert promoters aren’t too happy.

The funny part is, I find myself questioning the arguments of both sides. Take Socialstyrelsen first. Professor Stig Arlinger, who investigated the issue for them, says that animal research has shown residual damage to the cochlea after exposure to “sound levels approximately comparable with those appearing in a typical pop concert” (direct quote from Arlinger, my translation). The actual hearing abilities of the animals was unaffected, he says. And my question is: what does it matter if an organ shows scarring, as long as its function is unimpeded? Should that still count as injury? The important thing is being able to hear, not having a cochlea in pristine condition, right?

The concert promoters, on the other hand, claim that putting the decibel bar lower might lead to some bands refusing to play in Sweden. To which I can only say: huh? The artists are earning money by playing concerts. Would they really turn that money down, just because they wouldn’t be allowed to put their amplifiers on max any more? I don’t think so.

* “Today’s News”, Sweden’s biggest morning paper.

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