Impulse Noise

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Definition - What does Impulse Noise mean?

Impulse noise is a short, rapid discharge of sound wave energy displacement from a source (i.e. explosion, firearm) projecting a loud noise above the 85 decibels (dB) threshold at a frequency range of less than one second. The dB peak pressure (dBP) baseline is a factor when measuring an impulse noise based on the amplitude (frequency rate) where sound pressure values fluctuate between dangerous and safe noise levels.

SureHire explains Impulse Noise

The anatomy of the human ear is typically able to transmit regular sound waves at or below the 75 dB threshold range. When an impulse noise occurs, a disruption between the auditory cue and bioelectric impulse from the brain fails to convert sound waves at a safe frequency pitch. Though hearing sensitivity follows 85 decibels inside an 8-hour window, the noise-to-exposure ratio is halved by 3-decibel increments, compensating for a limited timeframe where repeated short duration exposures, for example, impulse noises, cause hearing impairment.

While hearing loss is often characterized by a slow, gradual decline, the health implications associated with impulse noise should be catalysts for measures to mitigate noise-induced hearing loss on the job. For example, hearing protection (i.e. earmuffs or earplugs) can help muffle or diffuse the noise.


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