How loud is impact noise?

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How loud is impact noise?

Postby Call_Me_Op » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:26 pm

As someone with tinnitus, I try to avoid loud noise but sometimes it catches me by surprise. Today, I was several feet from a couple of construction workers who dropped something from a cart (perhaps from 3-4 feet high onto a tile surface). It made a very loud crashing noise. Does anyone know if I can bound the loudness of such an impact noise? Can it be as loud as a gunshot, or is it typically limited to (say) less than 130 dB peak? I can calculate from basic physics that whatever was dropped was traveling at about 10 mph when it hit the ground - but that's about as far as I can go.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby scouter » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:52 pm

I doubt that you can calculate it with any accuracy. It would have to be measured with a SPL meter, and they could probably drop it 10 times and get a different reading each time. It depends on the mass of what's being dropped as well as the hardness of both the dropped item and the floor, and the biggest unknown, the angle at which it hits the floor.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby Call_Me_Op » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:57 pm

Scouter, do you think generalizations can be made regarding the upper limit of such impact noises? I am trying to gauge whether a single such exposure can cause permanent damage.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby nisiprius » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:27 pm

When I regularly walked about 1.5 miles from a train station to work, through an urban environment, I regularly encountered loud noises from construction sites. I kept earplugs in my pocket and regularly used them for my commute--even on the train. It does not interfere with hearing traffic, station announcements, etc. as it reduces all noises equally. It also reduces the emotional impact, the sort of tensing and tightening up you do when e.g. a loud truck drives by you. You don't realize how much you tighten up in response to noise until you wear earplugs and stop doing it.

There are many different kinds and styles of earplugs and you should try different kinds until you find a kind you like. Don't forget that you're not doing target practice or anything, just trying to tame the dB level a bit, so you don't necessarily need anything approved or certified--diving earplugs might be right even though they're not marketed for noise reduction.

If they're made of rubber (or silicone), they start out soft, flexible and tender--and harden with time; look for cheap ones because you don't want to be afraid to replace them.

If you're worried about the social aspects, you could look for portable music player earbuds, looking particular for ones that have a comfortable fit and a tight seal. Nobody needs to know you're not really listening to music.

I don't commute regularly by public transportation any more and I've quit doing it and should really start again. The latest assault on my hair cells: Xlerator hand dryers in restrooms. Especially if people hold their hands too close to them. I'd like to know the dB reading on those things.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby NAVigator » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:46 pm

nisiprius wrote:...Xlerator hand dryers in restrooms. Especially if people hold their hands too close to them. I'd like to know the dB reading on those things.

78-80+ dB
Xlerator Hand Dryer Noise Levels

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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby gkaplan » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:48 pm

leaf blowers
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby nisiprius » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:51 pm

NAVigator wrote:
nisiprius wrote:...Xlerator hand dryers in restrooms. Especially if people hold their hands too close to them. I'd like to know the dB reading on those things.

78-80+ dB
Xlerator Hand Dryer Noise Levels

Jerry
Funny, this source says 89-100, and notes that it is "louder than the manufacturer’s published results."
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby Animal House » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:52 pm

I have had fairly bad tinnitus for quite a few years, so I know where you are coming from. I did a bit of searching on the web and found the following page:

http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/noise/

It gives you examples of a number of common sounds and how many DBs they are. You might find it useful for comparison sake. I doubt dropping an object, unless it landed very close to your ear, could creating a single impact noise that could cause permanent damage (gunshot loud), but I am not a doctor and I do not play one at work :D
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby NAVigator » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:56 pm

I wondered about trusting the manufacturer's testing. Then I read their note about what OSHA states;
As a point of information, OSHA regulations concerning sound levels state
that persons exposed to a sound level of 90 dB for a continuous 8-hour period, or
95 dB for a continuous 4-hour period, might require ear protection.

Time to use your earplugs or stop washing hands!

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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby Fallible » Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:06 pm

Call_Me_Op wrote:As someone with tinnitus, I try to avoid loud noise but sometimes it catches me by surprise. Today, I was several feet from a couple of construction workers who dropped something from a cart (perhaps from 3-4 feet high onto a tile surface). It made a very loud crashing noise. Does anyone know if I can bound the loudness of such an impact noise? Can it be as loud as a gunshot, or is it typically limited to (say) less than 130 dB peak? I can calculate from basic physics that whatever was dropped was traveling at about 10 mph when it hit the ground - but that's about as far as I can go.


A question: are you saying that your tinnitus is caused by loud noise?
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby scouter » Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:39 pm

Call_Me_Op wrote:Scouter, do you think generalizations can be made regarding the upper limit of such impact noises? I am trying to gauge whether a single such exposure can cause permanent damage.


Well, just for perspective, the loudest sound pressure possible would be 194 dB. (Maybe at the center of a nuclear reaction?)
A shotgun at very close range can reach 165 dB.

If I had to guess, I would guess that a hard, heavy object dropped on a tile floor and landing flat could reach 130-140 dB at close range? But that's just a wild guess. I don't think it could equal a shotgun at close range. And I don't know if anyone could say whether that one impact could cause hearing damage or exacerbate existing hearing problems like tinnitus.

I'm not a doc or an audiologist, I'm just a studio musician/recording engineer who has always studied sound levels, hearing protection, OSHA levels etc. for my own protection and career longevity. I work with a SPL meter next to the mixing board and use protective plugs in certain live shows.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby Animal House » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:40 pm

Fallible wrote:
Call_Me_Op wrote:As someone with tinnitus, I try to avoid loud noise but sometimes it catches me by surprise. Today, I was several feet from a couple of construction workers who dropped something from a cart (perhaps from 3-4 feet high onto a tile surface). It made a very loud crashing noise. Does anyone know if I can bound the loudness of such an impact noise? Can it be as loud as a gunshot, or is it typically limited to (say) less than 130 dB peak? I can calculate from basic physics that whatever was dropped was traveling at about 10 mph when it hit the ground - but that's about as far as I can go.


A question: are you saying that your tinnitus is caused by loud noise?


I have not really been keeping up with tinnitus research over the last decade, but at the time I was diagnosed, there did not seem to be any single cause for tinnitus. My tinnitus is a constant ringing noise, but there are other forms of the noise (roaring, clicking, etc). The sound I hear is the same sound I would hear for a few hours after a load rock concert or after a loud sharp noise (a gun shot). However, my tinnitus was not triggered by a loud noise. I was simply sitting at my desk and for no apparent reason my ears started to ring. That was 13 years ago :D After it started I had an exam by an audiologist. He diagnosed me with "machine deafness" (I do not remember the hertz range, but had lost about half my hearing in that range). The audiologist believed that was a contributing factor. However, some patients have tinnitus without any hearing loss at all.

I thought I was fairly unique when I first was diagnosed. However like a lot of things in life, once you have it, you suddenly realize it is a lot more common than you think.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby Anon1234 » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:20 pm

Op, To calculate a maximum SPL you would take the mass and speed of the object, and find its energy at the moment of impact. Assume that all the energy is converted to sound (no vibration, no friction, no heating, no recoil (bouncing). Then you would need to assume some dispersion pattern, possibly a hemisphere. You then need to assume some wave length. You use the wavelength to calculate the thickness of the hemisphere. You now have energy and a volume it is distributed in (assume uniform). For that volume to store that energy you can use a thermodynamic model of gas compression (adiabatic, isothermal, polytropic) to calculate the gas pressure in the wave. Once you have the gas pressure you can use the standard SPL formula to calculate the magnitude in decibels.

I think you will get a number far greater than what you experienced in reality. And to answer your question - yes, one time exposures can cause permanent loss. One time exposures can kill you, that's what most would call an explosion.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby Fallible » Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:26 pm

Animal House wrote:
Fallible wrote:
Call_Me_Op wrote:As someone with tinnitus, I try to avoid loud noise but sometimes it catches me by surprise. Today, I was several feet from a couple of construction workers who dropped something from a cart (perhaps from 3-4 feet high onto a tile surface). It made a very loud crashing noise. Does anyone know if I can bound the loudness of such an impact noise? Can it be as loud as a gunshot, or is it typically limited to (say) less than 130 dB peak? I can calculate from basic physics that whatever was dropped was traveling at about 10 mph when it hit the ground - but that's about as far as I can go.


A question: are you saying that your tinnitus is caused by loud noise?


I have not really been keeping up with tinnitus research over the last decade, but at the time I was diagnosed, there did not seem to be any single cause for tinnitus. My tinnitus is a constant ringing noise, but there are other forms of the noise (roaring, clicking, etc). The sound I hear is the same sound I would hear for a few hours after a load rock concert or after a loud sharp noise (a gun shot). However, my tinnitus was not triggered by a loud noise. I was simply sitting at my desk and for no apparent reason my ears started to ring. That was 13 years ago :D After it started I had an exam by an audiologist. He diagnosed me with "machine deafness" (I do not remember the hertz range, but had lost about half my hearing in that range). The audiologist believed that was a contributing factor. However, some patients have tinnitus without any hearing loss at all.

I thought I was fairly unique when I first was diagnosed. However like a lot of things in life, once you have it, you suddenly realize it is a lot more common than you think.


You're right, there are many causes and degrees of tinnitus and I wondered whether the OP knew this. My tinnitus is associated with a partial hearing loss I was born with, but it can increase at times not just from loud noise but certain kinds of noise, especially high-pitched sounds.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby SHL » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:07 am

I suffer from tinnitus and hearing loss, caused by Ménière's disease and past noise exposure. I can relate to the OP's concerns because hearing loss is permanent and tinnitus can be maddening, so I try hard to save the hearing I still have. I avoid loud noises whenever possible and always have disposable foam earplugs handy, just in case.

I read somewhere that listening to music can relieve the effects of tinnitus, so I usually go to sleep at night while listening to classical music on the radio with the volume turned down low to mask the ringing in my ears, and it seems to help.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby leo383 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:50 am

I have a friend who has tinnitus with a twist--he has a different pitch in each ear. Essentially an out of tune chord being played in his ears at all times. Maddening.

I have started using ear plugs for my band''s practice, concerts, and for sporting events.

I use these:

http://www.planetwaves.com/pwProductDet ... y_Earplugs

It is amazing how much less stressed out I feel when I use these. I leave events feeling normal, not drained.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby leo383 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:52 am

nisiprius wrote:I don't commute regularly by public transportation any more and I've quit doing it and should really start again. The latest assault on my hair cells: Xlerator hand dryers in restrooms. Especially if people hold their hands too close to them. I'd like to know the dB reading on those things.


Our Costco has Dyson hand dryers; they sound like a jet plane taking off. And with the tile floors and walls, deafening.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby Call_Me_Op » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:17 am

Fallible wrote:
Call_Me_Op wrote:As someone with tinnitus, I try to avoid loud noise but sometimes it catches me by surprise. Today, I was several feet from a couple of construction workers who dropped something from a cart (perhaps from 3-4 feet high onto a tile surface). It made a very loud crashing noise. Does anyone know if I can bound the loudness of such an impact noise? Can it be as loud as a gunshot, or is it typically limited to (say) less than 130 dB peak? I can calculate from basic physics that whatever was dropped was traveling at about 10 mph when it hit the ground - but that's about as far as I can go.


A question: are you saying that your tinnitus is caused by loud noise?


No, the cause of my tinnitus is unknown - possibly a medication and perhaps stress - in addition to underlying damage to the inner ear that we all have to some degree. My concern stems from that fact that loud noise can cause hearing loss and I have read it can also worsen tinnitus.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby Call_Me_Op » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:19 am

scouter wrote:
Call_Me_Op wrote:Scouter, do you think generalizations can be made regarding the upper limit of such impact noises? I am trying to gauge whether a single such exposure can cause permanent damage.


Well, just for perspective, the loudest sound pressure possible would be 194 dB. (Maybe at the center of a nuclear reaction?)
A shotgun at very close range can reach 165 dB.

If I had to guess, I would guess that a hard, heavy object dropped on a tile floor and landing flat could reach 130-140 dB at close range? But that's just a wild guess. I don't think it could equal a shotgun at close range. And I don't know if anyone could say whether that one impact could cause hearing damage or exacerbate existing hearing problems like tinnitus.



Interestingly, OSHA permits exposure to impulse noise at levels up to 140 dB peak.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby Call_Me_Op » Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:23 am

nisiprius wrote:When I regularly walked about 1.5 miles from a train station to work, through an urban environment, I regularly encountered loud noises from construction sites. I kept earplugs in my pocket and regularly used them for my commute--even on the train. It does not interfere with hearing traffic, station announcements, etc. as it reduces all noises equally. It also reduces the emotional impact, the sort of tensing and tightening up you do when e.g. a loud truck drives by you. You don't realize how much you tighten up in response to noise until you wear earplugs and stop doing it.

There are many different kinds and styles of earplugs and you should try different kinds until you find a kind you like. Don't forget that you're not doing target practice or anything, just trying to tame the dB level a bit, so you don't necessarily need anything approved or certified--diving earplugs might be right even though they're not marketed for noise reduction.

If they're made of rubber (or silicone), they start out soft, flexible and tender--and harden with time; look for cheap ones because you don't want to be afraid to replace them.

If you're worried about the social aspects, you could look for portable music player earbuds, looking particular for ones that have a comfortable fit and a tight seal. Nobody needs to know you're not really listening to music.

I don't commute regularly by public transportation any more and I've quit doing it and should really start again. The latest assault on my hair cells: Xlerator hand dryers in restrooms. Especially if people hold their hands too close to them. I'd like to know the dB reading on those things.


This happened while walking in my building at work - not normally a place with loud noises and not where one would normally need/use hearing protection. This was a complete surprise. I do use hearing protection (mainly high NRR earmuffs) when I know there is a high probability of loud noise exposure. They are not pretty, but are very effective.

My tinnitus is, for better or worse, all over the map in intensity, character, and localization (left ear/right ear/bilateral/head). I have had it for many years and usually can deal with it now - although it was incredibly distressing in the early days (it emerged suddenly). I don't really know whether a loud noise exposure would worsen my tinnitus - but I am not eager to find out.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby Valuethinker » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:17 am

2 things on tinnitus:

- the first is there are now digital earplugs that 'cut out' when noise goes over a threshold. Soldiers obviously cannot simply use earplugs and miss a key order or the sound of someone going off safety. A big problem in Iraq has been deafness (troops sitting in armoured vehicle-- IED hits, the troops live, but they've lost their hearing, and are therefore invalids, lost from the military's point of view). I had to research these for a neighbour's daughter (classical musician-- percussionist). Norwegian company was doing them. Worth looking into.

Nisi is utterly right about the high physiological and mental cost of loud noise.

- the cure for tinnitus 'cure' in quotes, is psychological/ neurological. As I understand it. The *cause* may be physical but in tinnitus school they teach you ways of learning to ignore that noise (a la pain management clinics). The reason being the brain forms stronger neural links around anything we notice a lot, react a lot to, thus worsening the phenomenon. There are tinnitus clinics (it was an article in the Financial Times a few years back about attending one).

On that line I would therefore also consider trying acupuncture which I have found effective for chronic pain (back, wrists, bladder).

I don't think we have any good diagnoses/ treatment for tinnitus, in a purely medical/ physical sense.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby Call_Me_Op » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:05 am

VT,

I am very familiar with the tinnitus habituation treatment based upon the Jastreboff Neurophysiological Model (i.e., TRT, or Tinnitus Retraining Therapy). There is some validity to it, but it is rather hit or miss, expensive, and takes a long time if you want formal treatment. I have been through the program at University of Maryland. Treatments like Neuromonics are based upon the same basic model.

The bottom line is that once tinnitus emerges, it is not uncommon that you are stuck with the condition. Your emotional response in the early days more or less determines how much you will struggle with your tinnitus in the future. If you are lucky, over time you will habituate to the "noise" and it will not bother you much.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby Nearing_Destination » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:26 pm

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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby LadyGeek » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:13 pm

As a reminder, medical issues are off-topic (tinnitus). See: Forum Policy. Please stay on-topic (impact noise).

Medical Issues

Questions on medical issues are beyond the scope of the forum. If you are looking for medical information online, I'd like to suggest you start with the Medical Library Association's User's Guide to Finding and Evaluating Health Information on the Web which, in addition to providing guidance on evaluating health information, includes lists of their top recommended sites in the following categories: consumer health, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. They also provide a larger, but less frequently updated, list called Top 100 List: Health Websites You Can Trust.
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Re: How loud is impact noise?

Postby stat5 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:53 pm

Scuba diving one time caused my Tinnitus.
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