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Occupational exposure to infrasonic and low frequency noise: actual problems of hygienic standardization

ISSN 2223-6775 Ukrainian journal of occupational health Vol.17, No 4, 2021

Occupational exposure to infrasonic and low frequency noise: actual problems of hygienic standardization

Myshchenko I.1, Nazarenko V.I.2, Stopa M.1, Maslakiewicz M.1
1Accredited Laboratory of Occupational Health and Safety, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Wroclaw, Poland
2State Institution "Kundiev Institute for Occupational Health of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine", Kyiv, Ukraine

Full article (PDF): ENG / UKR

Introduction. Infrasonic and low frequency noise (LFN) are environmental and occupational hazards, which proportion continually increases. Commonly accepted hygienic standards and requirements to their measurements are absent and vary from country to country.

The purposes of the article are conduct a literature review concerning current legislation of occupational exposure to LFN and infrasound; compare levels of LFN using frequency analysis in 1/3-octave bands in the ranges from 2 to 250 Hz at the workplaces and living settlements; analyse subjective complaints of people working/living in the areas of conducted measurements; propose an approach to the hygienic evaluation of LFN and infrasound.

Materials and methods. Analytical review of scientific publications was carried out using scientometric databases, periodicals and regulations. Sanitary and hygienic measurements of infrasound and LFN were conducted by the Octave 110A sound level meter in octave and 1/3 octave bands with geometric mean frequencies in the range of 2–250 Hz at office premises, Academic Vernadsky Antarctic Station, on the territory and premises of the residential area "Nova Darnytsia", on maritime transportof the DAT “Chernomorneftgaz” in accordance with current Ukrainian sanitary norms. A survey concerning subjective complaints on the parameters of physical factors (microclimate, artificial lighting, noise) was carried among 30 office workers of State Institution «Kundiev IOH AMS of Ukraine».

Results. Most of the published articles, dedicated to the impact of LFN and infrasound, consider results of measurements using A-weighting characteristic, which essentially reduces information about LFN. Our results show that LFN in the range 2–250Hz is widespread in the industrial environment, in transport, residential areas, living premises. Despite the fact that noise levels measured using correction "A" do not exceed sanitary norms, up to 44.0±3.7% of respondents complain on noise at the workplaces. The propagation of noise increases with a prevalence low frequency bands in its spectrum.So, an absorption of acoustic oscillations by building structures is 8 dB at frequency of 31.5 Hz and 14–16 dB at frequency of 250 Hz. Acoustic oscillations in the range of 2–8 Hz at marine vessels are propagated approximately by 1,000 times better than the sound perceived by the human ear.

Conclusions. Existing approaches to the problem of assessmentof occupational and habitual exposure to the infrasonic and LFN haven’t allowed yet to substantiate generally accepted hygienic standards for these physical factors. National standards vary from country to country and differ from each other by established limits and measuring methods. Most of the published articles consider results of measurements using A-, C- and G-weighting characteristics, which do not provide objective information about spectral characteristics of the exposure hazard level. The authors suggest that the further identification of the problem should start from a common approach. The authors proposed methodology of data acquisition measuring in the 1-500 Hz range using 1/3 octave bands, linear scale and linear RMS, Min and Max detector for the purpose of profound identification of low frequency sources and for objective analysis of human organism reactions to its exposure.

Key words: low-frequency noise, infrasound, occupational exposure, hygienic standardization.


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