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A simple definition of noise is "unwanted sound". What is noise to one person is just entertainment to another. Ask two persons of different age or makeup what they think about Rock'n Roll for instance.
From a legal standpoint the definition of noise is different. Legally noise is exposure to sounds exceeding an average of 90 dB of noise for eight hours per day. A TWA (time weighted average) of 90 dB equals the current maximum legal noise exposure (in the US) for an individual without an existing hearing damage. The exposure limit for someone with an existing hearing damage is 85 dB. The exposure level is currently being reviewed and NIOSH is recommending that the TWA is reduced to 85 dB for all workers.
The decibel scale is a logarithmic scale, which means that the scale is not linear, and we really have a hard time relating to the numbers. Every three dB represents a doubling of the sound level, and every 10 dB represents a tenfold increase in sound intensity. Add two machines making 90 dB each, and the result is 93 dB (and not 180 dB).
Noise erodes the small hair cells inside the cochlea of the human hearing organ. It is a very gradual process, and not a very noticeable one in the early stages. The damage that occurs on a daily basis is at first a temporary hearing damage. With repeated noise exposure the temporary damage turns into a permanent damage. At this stage the damage is irreversible.
How can you prevent this from happening to you or your employees? Noise control measures should come first. Get rid of the noise whenever possible. When all measures have been taken to improve the environment, hearing protection offers another convenient alternative. An average hearing protector will reduce noise with 20 to 29 dB. Considering that every 3 dB cuts the noise in half, you can get a lot of protection from an ear muff or ear plug. But hearing protection has to be used correctly or they will lose a great proportion of their effectiveness. This web site shows many hearing protection devises representing the state of the art in this field.
Read more: Facts About Noise #2, Permissible Noise Exposure
Links to hearing protection pages: | Reusable Earplugs | Disposable Earplugs, Elvex Blue | Disposable Earplugs, Uni-Fit | Banded Earplugs | Headband Earmuffs | Cap Mount Earmuffs | Electronic Hearing Protection | QuieTunes AM/FM Radio | Hearing-Face Combos | OSHA Hearing Conservation Summary | Hearing Conservation Videos | View Order Form |
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