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Case Study of Low-Frequency Noise Assessed Using DIN 45680 Criteria

This paper describes a case study in which low-frequency noise was suspected of causing disturbance in a semi-rural location close to an industrial estate. Previous attempts using conventional acoustic measurement techniques to resolve the case, or even prove the existence of a real acoustic problem, had proved unsuccessful. in the present study, the authors applied a novel integrated acoustic/microseismic measurement system, and assessed the resultant data using criteria from the German national standard DIN 45680. Using this approach, the authors successfully resolved the low-frequency noise problem and, after a test involving a sequential shutdown at a suspect industrial site, established the precise cause of the disturbance. The paper thus supports the criteria in DIN 45680 as a predictor of annoyance due to low-frequency noise and as an aid in resolving such problems. it also illustrates the flexibility of the combined acoustic/microseismic technique and the advantages of the method over conventional techniques.

Environmental low-frequency noise is a growing cause of annoyance and a potential hazard to health for an increasing number of people, as industrial noise sources capable of creating low-frequency noise increase in number and size. Adverse effects of low-frequency noise and vibration on humans may include aural pain, loss of balance, effects on the respiratory system, annoyance, cardiovascular and endocrine effects, decreased performance and cognition, sleep disturbance, effects on communication, and psychosocial and mental health effects. … There is often an apparent contradiction in low-frequency noise cases between individuals claiming to be suffering unbearable noise exposure and the inability of others to perceive any low-frequency sound at all. … The number of industrial noise sources capable of creating low-frequency noise is increasing, as plant and equipment sizes become larger. However, neither British nor International standards dealing specifically with low-frequency noise problems exist as of yet.

Ian Rushforth, Andy Moorhouse
Acoustics Research Unit, School of Architecture and Building Engineering, University of Liverpool, UK
Peter Styles
Applied and Environmental Geophysics Group, School of Earth Sciences and Geography, University of Keele, UK

Journal of Low Frequency Noise, Vibration and Active Control, Vol. 21, No. 4, Pages 181-198, 2002

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