Conn. Could be First State to Curb Loud Movies
Connecticut could become the first state to curb loud movies under proposed legislation that’s drawing opposition from the Motion Picture Association of America.
The legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee is considering the bill, which would prevent theaters from showing a film or preview that exceeded 85 decibels. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends noise should be kept below 85 decibels for workers for eight hours to minimize hearing loss.
"Hopefully this will be a wakeup call to the theater owners and the MPAA to get their act together and do something that’s good for the public and still will satisfy their needs," said William Young, a Stamford resident and chemical industry consultant who has pushed the measure. "Why they need such loud sounds is beyond me."
Jon Griffin, a policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures, said he believes Connecticut would be the first state to regulate the maximum decibel level at movies. Vans Stevenson, a senior vice president with the MPAA, also said the issue is not regulated.
A New York lawmaker has unsuccessfully pushed a measure that called for preventing trailers and commercials from playing louder than feature films.
Dr. Robert Dobie, a professor at the University of Texas who is an expert in noise-induced hearing loss, said the 85-decibel standard is for workers’ prolonged exposure, not occasional loud sounds from a movie.
"The exposure is so brief and intermittent that no one with any expertise would ever say that they have any real risk of hazard or harm," Dobie said. "I feel quite comfortable that the exposures are not anywhere near hazardous. It’s the combination of level and duration that matters."
For comparison, the American Tinnitus Association says 85 decibels is the sound of average traffic, 80 decibels is the sound of an alarm clock 2 feet away and 100 decibels is the sound of a blow dryer.