|Year : 2005 | Volume
| Issue : 26 | Page : 11--20
Protection efficiency of hearing protectors against military noise from handheld weapons and vehicles
R Paakkonen1, K Lehtomaki2
1 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Tampere, Finland
2 Finnish Defence Forces, Helsinki, Finland
Noise attenuation against military noises has been measured in several cases under practical field conditions. Commercial and military versions of earmuff noise attenuation were measured against rifle noise. All the tested earmuffs attenuated the C-weighted peak level to less than 135 dB, which is less than the proposed recommendation value. Combat and shooting exercises create a risk of hearing damage, reaching a peak level of 180 dB. Measurements were done during attack exercises with blank and normal cartridges and during a defence exercise with normal cartridges. The noise exposure levels were relatively moderate (outside the ear 9597 dB, in ear canal 82-85 dB) for military exercises. Peak levels of 110-120 dB for military trainers were measured in the ear canal during the conscript use of small-bore weapons. Combat vehicles and tanks are noisy, and for noise control during their use headgear with communication properties is worn. Noise inside such headgear was found to reach up to 120 dB, and the noise doses varied between 90 and 105 dB. Noise was also measured for aviation pilots in Finnish jet fighters. The cockpit values averaged 96 dB - 100 dB over the flight, whereas noise in the ear canal averaged 88 dB - 95 dB. The analyses indicated that radio noise is 4-10 dB higher inside the helmet than the background noise is, when measured as equivalent noise. The technicians on the ground were exposed to noise levels varying from 93 to 97 dB over the day.
In practice, hearing protectors attenuate noise by 10-30 dB, depending on the frequency content of the noise sources. However, the difference when measured outside and inside hearing protectors varies by 5-10 dB because communication increases the noise level at the entrance of ear the canal. Currently the best protection for soldiers seems to be active noise cancellation ear muffs that are equipped for communication purposes and worn during the entire military exercise.
Tampere Regional Institute of Occupational Health, P.O.Box 486, FIN-33101 TAMPERE
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
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