We were going to embed a hearing test, but the best we could find were these two minutes of total silence.
85 decibels is generally considered a threshold for noise that can do permanent damage, although some health advocates argue that an environment where noise levels are as low as 70 decibels is optimal for daily life. But the problem is that you probably have no idea what the hell constitutes 70 or 85 decibels, and you'd be far from alone.
We generally assume that you can only damage your hearing in places like concerts or construction sites, but gyms, restaurants, traffic, and other daily environments can easily crack that 85-decibel mark. Even phones, when cranked to their maximum volume, can blast out 100 ear-annihilating decibels (a typical nightclub hits 110), so watch your bedtime YouTube consumption.
Hearing naturally declines with age, although that decline is, well, declining. It's likely because of a drop in those grip-strengthening manufacturing jobs, as well as healthier habits like less smoking and more use of ear protection. But there is a concern that modern urban design is failing to factor in the hubbub of daily life, and that the average person, unaware of the seriousness of the problem, isn't taking steps to protect their ears.
The World Health Organization even considers hearing loss an "underestimated threat," as if our long-neglected Matchbox 20 albums are going to sneak up and deafen us in our sleep. So be the nerd who wears earplugs at a concert. You'll thank us when you're 65 and can still understand what the fuck people are saying to you. Or can at least still hear them, anyway.