I couldn’t even wrap my head around that number last night, though my pounding head and bewildered state might have something to do with my throbbing ears for exactly the thing I was trying to comprehend.
That being said, I think we all have a pretty good idea what the moment was when the Ford Center officially became the deafening Thunderdome, breaking the record for the loudest playoff crowd ever at 109 Decibels (per Craig Sager, but I can’t find any citeable information to back this up), crushing the previous record of 102 at Arco Arena.
The decibel meter started to inch towards the redline with Westbrook’s eye-popping, hand-over-mouth, “Did I just see that?” dunk over Lamar Odom. Then Harden’s open-floor three pointer to pull the Thunder within three points after trailing the entire game pushed the needle past the edge of the meter’s measurable limit.
And then KD hit that three. The needle shot to the right and stopped–the decibel meter could not move any farther. I honestly thought it was broken at that point. Or at least stuck because it was never meant to go that far.
But the noise just kept growing and growing, the eruption was a crescendo of excitement, nerves, disbelief and pure joy that was quite literally a painfully exuberant moment to experience.
Painful? Absolutely. My ears are still feeling it a day later. Which got me thinking, how loud is 109 Decibels?
According to the NIOSH and the CDC, 2002, the permissible amount of time that an individual can be exposed to 109 Decibels without suffering significant, permanent hearing loss is 1.875 minutes, or 1 minute and 52 and a half seconds.
Now obviously (and thankfully for those of us wishing to maintain our hearing), that record breaking reading was not sustained and didn’t last for very long at its apex. But the sheer fact that the Thunderdome was able to reach that sheer volume of noise is nothing short of remarkable, if not a little awesomely scary, as the information below will show you.
Dangerous Decibel Levels:
80 Decibels – Garbage Disposal, Freight Train — Possible Hearing Damage
90 Decibels – Diesel Truck, Food Blender — Hearing Damage (8 hours)
100 Decibels – Jet Takeoff (at 305 meters), Lawn Mower, Motorcycle, Tractor, Jackhammer — Serious Hearing Damage (8 hours)
110 Decibels – Chain Saw, Steel Mill, Riveting, Auto Horn — Human Pain Threshold
Yes, you read that correctly. Human Pain Threshold = 110 Decibels for ANY length of exposure. And the Thunderdome was within 1 Decibel of that last night. No amplifiers, no intricate sound systems pumping supplemental rock music, just 18,342 screaming, crazy, electric fans. Which means that it is time to add this to the list of Dangerous Decibel Levels…
109 Decibels – The Thunderdome, OKC — Opponent Intimidation Threshold
Two men enter…