Isolating the auditory system from acoustic noise during functional magnetic resonance imaging: examination of noise conduction through the ear canal, head, and body.
Approaches were examined for reducing acoustic noise levels heard by subjects during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a technique for localizing brain activation in humans. Specifically, it was examined whether a device for isolating the head and ear canal from sound (a "helmet") could add to the isolation provided by conventional hearing protection devices (i.e., earmuffs and earplugs). Both subjective attenuation (the difference in hearing threshold with versus without isolation devices in place) and objective attenuation (difference in ear-canal sound pressure) were measured. In the frequency range of the most intense fMRI noise (1-1.4 kHz), a helmet, earmuffs, and earplugs used together attenuated perceived sound by 55-63 dB, whereas the attenuation provided by the conventional devices alone was substantially less: 30-37 dB for earmuffs, 25-28 dB for earplugs, and 39-41 dB for earmuffs and earplugs used together. The data enabled the clarification of the relative importance of ear canal, head, and body conduction routes to the cochlea under different conditions: At low frequencies (< or =500 Hz), the ear canal was the dominant route of sound conduction to the cochlea for all of the device combinations considered. At higher frequencies (>500 Hz), the ear canal was the dominant route when either earmuffs or earplugs were worn. However, the dominant route of sound conduction was through the head when both earmuffs and earplugs were worn, through both ear canal and body when a helmet and earmuffs were worn, and through the body when a helmet, earmuffs, and earplugs were worn. It is estimated that a helmet, earmuffs, and earplugs together will reduce the most intense fMRI noise levels experienced by a subject to 60-65 dB SPL. Even greater reductions in noise should be achievable by isolating the body from the surrounding noise field. (+info)
Assessment of the influence of background noise on escape-maintained problem behavior and pain behavior in a child with Williams syndrome.
We examined the influence of background noise on levels of problem behavior and pain behavior under functional analysis conditions for a child with a diagnosis of Williams syndrome and hyperacusis. Background noise was associated with increases in escape-maintained problem behavior and increases in pain behavior such as clasping ears and crying. When the child was fitted with earplugs, there were substantial reductions in both problem and pain behavior under the background noise condition. (+info)
Anxiety reaction in children during removal of their plaster cast with a saw.
We have had experience of an 18-month-old boy with a cardiomyopathy who died a few minutes after removal of his cast with a saw, apparently from a malignant cardiac arrhythmia triggered by anxiety. We therefore examined the anxiety reaction to this method of removal of a plaster cast in 20 healthy children; ten were provided with hearing protectors and ten were not. The level of anxiety was assessed by measuring the heart rate, a known physiological indicator of anxiety, before, during and five minutes after removal of the cast. The noise level was also measured. The results showed a mean increase in heart rate during the procedure of 27.9 beats per minute (bpm) (26.9%) in the children with no hearing protectors and 10.4 bpm (11.1%) in children who used hearing protectors (p < 0.001). Five minutes after the procedure the heart rate had returned to the baseline rate in all patients. We recommend that hearing protectors should be used in children undergoing removal of a plaster cast to decrease the anxiety reaction. If possible, clinicians should avoid the use of a saw for this purpose in children with a cardiomyopathy. (+info)
Noise attenuation and proper insertion of earplugs into ear canals.
OBJECTIVES: The study was done to determine whether the noise attenuation attained with the use of earplugs can be improved by teaching the proper insertion of earplugs to users. METHODS: Fifty-four randomly selected male subjects were divided into an untrained group (25 persons) and a trained group (29 persons). The trained group was given a lecture on earplug insertion and allowed to practise the insertion procedure, whereas the untrained group acted as controls. The untrained group received this training afterwards. The success of the training was measured by the MIRE (microphone in real ear) and REAT (real ear at threshold) methods, visual evaluation and an analysis of the properties of the subjects' ear canals. RESULTS: According to the MIRE method, the averaged A-weighted noise attenuation was 21 dB for the untrained group and 31 dB for the trained group. With the REAT method the attenuation at 1000 Hz was 24 dB for the untrained group and 30 dB for the trained group. The visual evaluation of the earplug fit was 1.9 for the untrained group and 2.6 for the trained group (scales 0-3). CONCLUSION: The results indicate that training in earplug insertion is important for good attenuation and for diminishing poor attenuation to a minimum. (+info)
Hearing protectors acceptability in noisy environments.
OBJECTIVES: Although hearing protectors must be used as a temporary solution, their choice should take into account several aspects, such as ergonomic features, associated with this device. The present study aims to analyse the relationship between the acoustical attenuation efficiency and other aspects related to the comfort afforded by hearing protectors and, consequently, their acceptability when used in industrial noisy environments. METHODS: An evaluation of comfort was performed using a questionnaire, completed by 20 workers. Several scales related to the subjective feeling of comfort were used to quantify the comfort index of a given protector. Simultaneously, the time of usage of each protector was self-recorded by each subject. To test the relationship between the comfort index and the time during which protectors were used, a two-way analysis of variance (two-way ANOVA) was applied. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: The results obtained seem to demonstrate that there are significant differences between catalogued and effective attenuation. Protectors with less catalogued attenuation, but with higher acceptability, i.e. which were more comfortable, tended to be more efficient than protectors with a higher catalogued attenuation, but which were less comfortable. Finally, it must be emphasized that high efficiency can only be achieved through the attainment of an adequate balance between the range of parameters likely to determine its usage. (+info)
Noise control in the transportation corridor.
This paper considers the opportunities for noise control within the route corridor required for construction of road, rail and other guided transport schemes. It deals with control of noise generation at source, and in the transmission path close to the point of generation. In this way it is possible to control the amount of acoustic power generated, and to absorb part of the radiated power at points of reflection. Purely reflective wayside barriers do little to absorb acoustic energy, merely reflecting it in a different direction. Whilst this has selfish benefits to the receptor in the shadow zone of the barrier, it makes things worse for others on the reflective side of the geometry. The paper therefore considers the options available to the engineer in the design of rolling and sliding interfaces and the use of acoustically absorptive finishes on all surfaces close to the point of noise generation. This includes the running surface itself, structural components, retaining walls, over and under passes, and the inner surfaces of track and wayside barriers. (+info)
The role of hearing protectors in leisure noise.
Ear muffs and ear plugs are widely used in the workplace to provide hearing protection for employees exposed to high levels of noise. Through an examination of the use of ear protectors in the workplace this paper explores the extent to which these devices can play a similar role in protecting members of the public from hearing damage arising from exposure to high levels of noise from leisure activities. It is concluded that the major limitation to the effective use of ear protectors for leisure use is likely to be the lack of easily accessible information, advice and guidance on the nature of the hearing protection risk from noisy leisure activities, and on the availability, selection and use of protectors, and of the need for regular hearing checks. (+info)
Impulse noise and risk criteria.
Impulse noise causes evidently more severe hearing loss than steady state noise. The additional effect of occupational impulse noise on hearing has been shown to be from 5 to 12 dB at 4 kHz audiometric frequency. Reported cases for compensated for hearing loss are prevalent in occupations where noise is impulsive. For impulse noise two measurement methods have been proposed: the peak level method and energy evaluation method. The applicability of the peak level method is difficult as even the recurrent impulses have different time and frequency characteristics. Various national risk criteria differ from international risk criteria. In France the maximum A-weighted peak level is 135 dB, and in the United Kingdom the C-weighted peak sound pressure is limited to 200 Pa (140 dB). This criterion of unweighted 200 Pa (140 dB) is used in European Union (EU) directive 86/188 and ISO 1999-1990 regardless of the number of impulses. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has recommended that no exposure in excess of a C-weighted peak sound pressure level of 140 dB should be permitted. At work places these norms do not cause any practical consequences since the impulses seldom exceed 140 dB peak level. In several occupations the impulses are so rapid that they contribute only a minimal amount to the energy content of noise. These impulses can damage the inner ear even though they cause reduced awareness of the hazard of noise. Based to the present knowledge it is evident that there is the inadequacy of the equal energy principle in modelling the risk for hearing loss. The hearing protectors attenuate industrial impulse noise effectively due to the high frequency contents of impulses. Directive regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from noise requires that in risk assessment attention should be paid also to impulsive noise. So far there is no valid method to combine steady state and impulse noise. A statistical method for the measurements of industrial impulse noise is needed to get a preferably single number for risk assessment. There is an urgent task to develop risk assessment method and risk criteria for impulsive noise to meet the requirements of the upcoming European Union noise directive. (+info)