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Ground-Shaking Noise Rocks N.F.L., and Eardrums Take Big Hit

National Football League teams are racing this season to secure the title of loudest outdoor stadium in the world. The Seattle Seahawks, who boast that their fans caused a small earthquake after a 2011 touchdown, acclaimed their crowd’s record 136.6-decibel noise level this September after an effort orchestrated by the fan group Volume 12.

Four weeks later, the Kansas City Chiefs — who are still unbeaten — topped the record, in part because of a scream-a-thon organized by the fan group Terrorhead Returns.

“Be LOUD AND PROUD and blow my eardrums out!” one Chiefs fan wrote on Facebook.

The N.F.L. encourages the din.

noise-articleLarge“Fans know they are going to a football game and not searching for a book at a library,” said Brian McCarthy, an N.F.L. spokesman.

But all that noise can come with a serious cost. With peaks for touchdowns and troughs at timeouts, the average volume during an N.F.L. game is probably in the mid-90-decibel range, said Elliott Berger, an acoustical engineer at 3M, which makes protective hearing devices.

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