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Is Blu-tack as effective at attenuating sound as over-the-counter ear plugs?

  • G J Watson (a1), G Trainor (a2) and A E Camilleri (a1)

To demonstrate that Blu-tack is equally effective at attenuating sound as over-the-counter ear plugs.


Nineteen healthy volunteers had their hearing thresholds assessed before and after the insertion of over-the-counter ear plugs. The results were compared with hearing thresholds following the insertion of Blu-tack. Thresholds were tested at: 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 kHz. The differences were compared, and p values of less than 0.02 were regarded as significant. Using a visual analogue scale, volunteers were asked to assess the comfort and ease of insertion of the ear plugs and Blu-tack, and their peace of mind whilst using the ear plugs and Blu-tack.


Blu-tack was less effective at attenuating sound at low frequencies, but was as effective as over-the-counter ear plugs at attenuating sound above 3 kHz. Blu-tack was significantly more comfortable to wear (p = 0.006). There was no difference in terms of ease of insertion and peace of mind.


Blu-tack can be regarded as a comfortable alternative to over-the-counter ear plugs for the attenuation of everyday sound.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Mr A E Camilleri, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Trust, Southmoor Rd, Wythenshawe, Manchester M23 9LT, UK Fax: +44 161 291 4032 E-mail:
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The Journal of Laryngology & Otology
  • ISSN: 0022-2151
  • EISSN: 1748-5460
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-laryngology-and-otology
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