Public health and noise exposure: the importance of low frequency noise

This paper on Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Dose responses, was presented at the Inter-Noise 2007 conference held in Istanbul, Turkey August 28-31, 2007. The authors are Mariana Alves-Pereira and Nuno A. A. Castelo Branco of the Erisa-Universidade Lusofona, Lisbon, Portugal and the Center of Human Performance, Alverca, Portugal.

Noise exposure is known to cause hearing loss and a variety of disturbances, such as annoyance, hypertension and loss of sleep. It is generally accepted that these situations are caused by the acoustical events processed by the auditory system. However, there are acoustical events that are not necessarily processed by the auditory system, but that nevertheless cause harm. Infrasound and low frequency noise (ILFN, <500Hz) are acoustical phenomena that can impact the human body causing irreversible organic damage to the organism, but that do not cause classical hearing impairment. Acoustical environments are normally composed of all types of acoustical events: those that are processed by the auditory system, and those that are not. It is generally assumed that acoustical phenomena not captured by the human auditory system are not harmful. This is reflected by current noise assessment procedures that merely require the quantification of the acoustical phenomena that are audible to human hearing (hence the dBA unit). Thus, studies investigating the effects of noise exposure on public health that do not take into account the entire spectrum of acoustical energy are misleading and may, in fact, be scientifically unsound. Two cases of in-home ILFN are described.


Download file (182 KB) pdf

AUG 28 2007
back to top