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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 23  |  Page : 59--72

Low frequency noise and annoyance

Noise and Vibration Consultant, Ashtead, Surrey, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
H G Leventhall
Noise and Vibration Consultant, Ashtead, Surrey, KT21 1NL
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 15273024

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Low frequency noise, the frequency range from about 10Hz to 200Hz, has been recognised as a special environmental noise problem, particularly to sensitive people in their homes. Conventional methods of assessing annoyance, typically based on A-weighted equivalent level, are inadequate for low frequency noise and lead to incorrect decisions by regulatory authorities. There have been a large number of laboratory measurements of annoyance by low frequency noise, each with different spectra and levels, making comparisons difficult, but the main conclusions are that annoyance of low frequencies increases rapidly with level. Additionally the A-weighted level underestimates the effects of low frequency noises. There is a possibility of learned aversion to low frequency noise, leading to annoyance and stress which may receive unsympathetic treatment from regulatory authorities. In particular, problems of the Hum often remain unresolved. An approximate estimate is that about 2.5% of the population may have a low frequency threshold which is at least 12dB more sensitive than the average threshold, corresponding to nearly 1,000,000 persons in the 50-59 year old age group in the EU-15 countries. This is the group which generates many complaints. Low frequency noise specific criteria have been introduced in some countries, but do not deal adequately with fluctuations. Validation of the criteria has been for a limited range of noises and subjects.


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