Connecticut could become the first state to curb loud movies. 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. 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.
"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 with a doctorate in chemistry who has pushed the measure. An exec with the Motion Picture Association of America told the committee that the legislation is unnecessary and undermines voluntary standards adopted by companies and theaters. "Certainly no one is going to do anything that would have a hint of being harmful," he said. "We've gone to great lengths to make sure that average is in an acceptable range that is not harmful."