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Home » Particularly bad, disappointing and unwise decision (Opinion)

Particularly bad, disappointing and unwise decision (Opinion)

RTL Nieuws - Geen verlaging decibellen 02

No mandatory reduction of decibels in clubs and pubs against hearing damage

Clubs, pubs and festivals are not required to lower their decibels. In doing so, the cabinet is ignoring an advice from the Health Council. The Council called for a noise level of no more than 100 decibels because of the growing number of young people with hearing damage. The government will now only make voluntary agreements with the hospitality industry and also commit to the use of earplugs.

More than 1.2 million people suffer from hearing damage. But the Health Council’s plan to mandate a maximum of 100 decibels of noise, instead of the current 103, goes too far for the government. Doctors and victims call this a missed opportunity: “The ears of tens of thousands of children are going down the drain.” In the box below, you will read that the difference between 103 and 100 is significant.

What is the difference between 103 and 100 decibels?

100 decibels is half of 103 decibels. This does not seem entirely logical, but sound is measured in what is called a logarithmic scale. So is the Richter scale (for the strength of earthquakes).

According to, 20 decibels is equivalent to a “windless forest. 40 is the sound of whispering, 60 of a dishwasher or conversation. A passing train is 90, a jackhammer 95. A subway or nightclub is located on the disputed boundary of 103. Heavy thunderstorms (120) and gunfire or a “close-range fighter jet” (140) are a few notches above that.

In your spare time, the limit of 88 decibels is considered safe. Above that, you should take measures such as wearing earplugs. Experts expect a sharp increase in tinnitus (ringing in the ears) among young people: thousands more are said to be suffering from severe hearing problems every year, although precise figures are lacking.

Click here for frequently asked questions and answers about tinnitus.

Pain by speaker

Mirthe Lenssen was 23 years old when, after spending a few hours in the pub next to a speaker, she suddenly developed huge stitches in her ear. “The pain didn’t go away, the family doctor told me I have hearing loss. Little can be done about it and it can get better, but it can also get worse.” The bad scenario came true; a year later, she is still suffering from it. “It creates stress and I avoid places.”

Constant beep

How quickly and how randomly tinnitus strikes, Nino Langelaan (25) has experienced firsthand. “I played in bands as a drummer and often went to concerts. Of course I knew it existed, but you think: that won’t happen to me. So I never wore earplugs. Stupid, in retrospect.”

About 16 or 17 he was, when the beep in his ear – which normally always disappeared the next morning – lingered. Now he has a constant ringing in his ears. Check out his story to RTL News here.

There are calls in the House of Representatives to reduce the noise level from 103 to 100 decibels. The Health Council also recommended this last November. But State Secretary Maarten van Ooijen does not want to go that far, according to plans he announced today.

“There is too little support among parties, such as discos and pubs, to go to 100 decibels everywhere. And forcing it makes little sense. I am really hopeful that pubs, discos and nightclubs themselves will go to 100 decibels as much as possible. You also see that more and more attention is being paid to it,” says Van Ooijen.

Encourage earplugs

Still, he is optimistic. “We will work with the industry to make 100 decibels the norm more and more often and in more and more places.” But it is not an obligation. “It is indeed an agreement where we have room to allow for 103 decibels at times as well.”

For now, the government thinks more health gains can be made in encouraging earplugs and proper education. For example, it will soon be possible to buy earplugs in the hospitality industry. Now that is still prohibited.

That noncommittal approach is a thorn in the side of a majority of the House of Representatives. “This is too lax, far too non-committal,” said CDA MP Anne Kuik. “The Health Council simply recommended 100 decibels. We know that (in the. Netherlannds alone) 2 million people already suffer from hearing damage. That’s only going to increase if we don’t get a better handle on this problem.”

Kuik feels little for Van Ooijen’s idea. “The secretary of state’s solution now is to get more people to wear earplugs.” And that is insufficient, Kuik believes. “The secretary of state needs to get back on the road.”


ENT doctors are also concerned. ENT doctor Robert Stokroos does not understand why the government does not intervene more forcefully. “The government does push for less smoking, more exercise and other proven healthy things. But with loud noise, we are a lot less critical.”

According to him, the consequences can be enormous when your hearing deteriorates, because it affects you immensely in everyday life. Myrthe is learning to live with it. “But that’s not easy. Every day I’m reminded of it.”

[RTL Nieuws – Agnes de Goede – 28 Juni 2023]