Quiet-List 1997

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Re: Measuring noise

Message text written by INTERNET:quiet-list@igc.org
>In this case stating that traffic is 80 dB is 
quite meaningless without mentioning a specific distance.
  "Conversation" implies a certain distance, "traffic" does not.<


I agree that distance may establish a point of reference to make the
reading more meaningful, but readings can have meaning without any distance
annotation. The use of the word "meaningful" both by you and by Peter is
what gives me a problem with your statements.

The hypothetical traffic reading of 80 dB is quite meaningful if taken at a
person's property line.  It doesn't matter if the road is parallel and
adjacent to that line or a 1/2 mile away.  80 dB could be a violation of
some noise codes in this instance and, were it just 5 dB louder and
somewhat continuous like a freeway, would pose the risk of permanent
hearing damage to those subjected to it.  Even as cited, the 80 dB figure
is meaningful because we all know that a reading at that level is LOUD and
no distance qualifier is necessary.

This whole discussion began in response to an inquiry about a noisy
refrigeration unit. I do not disagree that for regulation or comparison
purposes, it would be necessary to have a standard  distance set to take
measurements of noise emitting products if an attempt were being made to
control the amount of permissible noise or to enable people to make valid
comparisons between competing manufacturers, but that's a horse of a
different color.  In the original instance where the validity of decibel
levels was questioned,  the distance from the bedroom to the unit does not
matter, what matters is how loud noise from the machine is in that bedroom
and whether or not it exceeds any statutory limits in that particular

Where standards or regulations on noise created by machines and appliances
are concerned, the Vancouver City Noise Report indicates that they may
already exist in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, where their
equipment is as much as 20 dB  quieter than what is used in the U.S. and
Canada.  If there are such standards and regulations there, possibly they
should be adopted over here to encourage the development of global
standards. I recall a recent posting to the Quiet List by an individual
from one of the Scandinavian countries.  Possibly the person can tell us
something about this matter.

Federico, thank you for your validation of my "conversation" readings.  I
note that these figures pretty much agree with the WHO  readings in your
very comprehensive paper on noise pollution and noise ordinances.

Writing at 9:20:14 AM on 12/16/97
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