Noise Levels Caused By Newcastle 500 Supercars Potentially Pose Hearing Loss Risk

Supercar racing is certainly a noisy sport in Newcastle, with new evidence showing that the noise levels produced while a race is underway could damage hearing. This comes after the NSW Chief Health Officer made a statement saying that anybody standing around or on the balcony of a Newcastle East apartment building during the upcoming racing event could suffer from hearing loss.

The statement was based on a sound monitoring recording undertaken by John Davies, a resident in the Carlton Building on the corner of Scott and Zaara streets – an area that is not even the noisiest part of the track. Davies monitored the noise levels during both the 2017 and 2018 supercar events by RCA acoustics. These recordings showed the noise levels peaking at 132, 136, and 138 decibels on a second-story balcony during the three days of the 2018 event. 

Davies sent these results to Dr Kerry Chant, who wrote back to him with her professional opinion on the matter. Chant said that “The noise assessment that Robert Carr and Associates has conducted suggests that during the event noise on a balcony of the Carlton Building was at levels that could cause hearing loss.”

Chant went on to explain that if anybody was on that balcony during the event without adequate hearing protection, the levels of noise exposure could certainly result in hearing loss.

Managing DNSW Noise Levels

As these findings could cause harmful results, appropriate measures need to be taken to make sure that the noise levels are properly managed. Destination NSW holds the regulatory responsibility for managing all noise levels of the race. 

Dr Chant did forward Mr Davies’s noise monitoring results and letter to DNSW chief executive officer Sandra Chipchase. Questions sent through to DNSW on this matter were then answered by a spokesperson. 

The agency acknowledged that supercar racing events are very noisy by nature, and that “the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 is no exception”. DNSW stated that the NSW government is working with residents to make sure that all concerns around this event are properly managed. 

Supercars Australia has prepared a Noise Management Fact Sheet. This outlines the noise assessment findings and includes mitigation strategies that can help people around the race to make informed decisions on their hearing and wellbeing. Supercars Australia says that they will continue to publish clear advice on mitigation measures.

Noise Protection During the Race

Mr Davies was not entirely pleased with this response from DNSW, as he thinks that they should be “actively advising the public by way of advertising of the risks associated with attending this event”.

This comes after Davies pointed out that a large number of schoolchildren attended the event without wearing hearing protection in past years. In fact, historically, the vast majority of spectators took no hearing protection measures. 

Earplugs certainly seem necessary to everyone at such an event – with the Noise Management Fact Sheet stating that “permanent hearing damage” could occur at noise levels above 120dB. Other sources have found noise levels around this event ranging from 112dB to 150dB.