Acoustiblok Soundproofing Blog Articles
Fracking is a Noisy Business
Fracking wells can be located near homes, schools, and other places that are normally located away from industrial businesses. Many people and families across the country are publically expressing their concerns about having to be so near fracking gas wells and about the non-stop noise the operation creates for their neighborhood.
Sources of Noise in a Fracking Operation Noise
Anybody who has been around an oil or gas field knows that it is a loud environment. Operating heavy equipment to move earth; shape a padsite; erect a drilling rig; supply the well site with materials, tools, etc. via semi trucks; and run all the equipment necessary to set up and drill a well is a very loud operation that lasts 25-45 days, in most cases. To surrounding neighbors, some of those noises are irritating and offensive, but some of them are harmful. Specific sources of fracking-related noise include:
• Site preparation - Activities that cause noise include ground clearing, grading, waste management , vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and construction and installation of facilities. A quote from an article found online described it as, “It sounds like setting up for a circus more or less. You got them coming in setting up pad sites and putting up the walls, then the trucks start rolling in and you don’t know where they are coming from but they just keep coming.”
• The fracking process – Primary sources of noise during the drilling are equipment drill rigs, and diesel engines.
• Vehicular traffic / heavy trucks - Fracking requires large quantities of sand, water and chemicals at a well site. Trucks also haul away the waste fluids from the drilling. A single fracking job requires hundreds of truck trips, and each well is generally fracked up to ten times. The increase in truck noise on surrounding roads is exponential.
• Compressor stations – To keep natural gas in a highly pressurized state for transport through pipelines, compressor stations are located every 40 to 100 miles along the route. The stations typically have multiple large industrial compressors. Some health impairments sometimes reported by persons who live near compressor stations include headaches, nosebleeds, sore throats, sinus irritation, skin rash, itchiness, cough, difficulty breathing, visual impairments and burning eyes. nausea, vomiting and neurological impacts like dizziness, fainting, ataxia, dystonia, loss of balance
Municipalities Are Requiring Noise Control Action
State and local noise regulations restrict the amount of noise, the duration of noise and the source of noise for fracking companies. There are usually noise level restrictions for certain times of the day. Many municipalities where drilling is allowed are requiring the use of sound baffling materials around a well site. A sound baffle is a construction or device which reduces the level of airborne sound. Sound baffles are a fundamental tool of noise mitigation, the practice of minimizing noise pollution or reverberation.
Many fracking companies say they are working to become better neighbors and address the concerns of community residents who live near the wells.
This is a three part blog about the issue of high volume hydraulic fracturing, known to many as "hydrofracking" or "fracking," and noise issues that surround it.
PART I: The Controversy
According to the Wall Stree Journal, more than 15 million Americans now live within one mile of a fracking well. America is in the midst of an energy boom. It's expected to continue for decades and natural gas is expected to replace coal as the largest source of U.S. electricity by 2035, the Department of Energy forecasts. This energy bonanza is largely due to the combined use of horizontal drilling and fracking.
New oil and gas wells have turned millions of people into the petroleum industry’s neighbors.While many welcome the oil and gas companies who come bearing checks for temporarily leasing their land, others do not. Many people think the operation is noisy, disruptive and risky to human health and the environment despite the financial benefits.
Fracking technology has existed since 1947, but it mushroomed in the late 1980s when companies began to combine it with horizontal drilling to magnify productivity. In the last 15 years, a frenzy of drilling has taken place in the Western states – involving tens of thousands of individual wells (for example, 30,000 in the State of Colorado alone). This has spread into the Midwest and other areas as well. Millions of acres of land have been leased in 32 states by companies that are eager to get in on the “gas bonanza.” There are more than 500,000 active natural gas wells in the U.S. Fracking is also being done in other countries such as Germany, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and others.
To get natural gas or oil through hydraulic fracturing, companies:
- Clear a well site, drill a bore hole, and drive a drill bit thousands of feet through the earth to reach layers of shale rock.
- Once they reach the strata of shale rock, they rotate the drill bit by 90 degrees and bore a horizontal cavity laterally through the shale seam to access a longer stretch of the deposit— from 1,000 feet to more than 10,000 feet.
- From the well head, they insert explosive charges down the bore hole and into the horizontal opening, and then set them off to perforate the well pipe and burst fissures in the rock.
- The drillers then pump millions of gallons of highly pressurized water, sand, ceramic beads, and chemical slurry into the hole to expand the fissures and hold them open.
- As natural gas or oil begins to flow upward to the wellhead on the surface, the sand and beads prevent the fissures from closing.
- Wastewater and drilling fluids that rise to the surface with the gas or oil are stored in ponds or tanks, or trucked away in heavy tank trucks.
The Issues For and Against
The following are some often used views from opponents and proponents about fracking:
Supporters and Industry Say:
The natural gas contained in the shale formations represents a huge storehouse of America's cleanest fossil fuel. The Potential Gas Committee, a non-profit group of natural gas experts, forecasts that this resource base contains 1,836 Tcf of gas. This, plus the proven reserves (238 Tcf ) identified by the US Department of Energy in 2007, means that the U.S. has enough natural gas to last at current rates of use for 118 years.
Some aren’t buying into the fracking hype however and think the risks are too high. Attacks on fracking come from environmental, political, and economical sides. Movies such as Gasland, Gasland2, Promised Land, Down Deep and Unearthed have even brought each side’s issues to the big screen and social media. Polarized by divided allegiances to politics, parties, and popular opinion, many people are left wondering who to trust and what to believe.
PART 2 OF THIS BLOG SERIES WILL COVER:
Noise issues associated with fracking.
Second-hand noise is an unwanted airborne pollutant produced by others. It is imposed on us without our consent, often against our wills, and at times, places, and volumes over which we have no control. There is growing evidence that noise pollution is not merely an annoyance; like other forms of pollution, it has wide-ranging adverse health, social, and economic effects.
Many people are not aware of it or even think about it, but noise affects us without our being consciously aware of it. We can shut our eyes to exclude unwanted or potentially harmful visual images, but try shutting your ears voluntarily to exclude unwanted noise. Our hearing mechanisms are always on even when we are asleep.
Mankind has been plagued by both natural and manmade affliction. In the 21st Century, we have little choice when it comes to noise and experiencing the man-made infestation of environmental noise from which there is virtually no escape, no matter where we are – in our homes and yards, on our streets, in our cars, at theaters, restaurants, parks, arenas, and in other public places. Despite attempts to regulate it, noise pollution has become an unfortunate fact of life worldwide and it just seems to be getting worse.
The noise problems of the past pale in significance when compared with those experienced by modern city dwellers; noise pollution continues to grow in extent, frequency, and severity as a result of population growth, urbanization, and technological developments.
Whether you make the noise or not, the reality is second-hand noise is everywhere these days. It’s virtually inescapable. Our modern roadways (including road, rail, and air) and the products of modern power machinery and technology produce increasing levels of unwanted noise of varying types and intensities throughout the day and night that disturb sleep, detract from our ability to concentration, make us tired, increase anxiety and stress, and can raise blood pressure and cause headaches.
Video about cuttent record. Video about previous records.
European futbol fans be on alert. While your stadiums are known for loud fans and crowd antics, American football fans are out to top your noise records. During the NFL Monday Night Football game on December 2, 2013, Seattle Seahawks fans at CenturyLink Field not only broke the Guinness World Record for loudest outdoor stadium noise at 137.6 decibels during their game with the New Orleans Saints, they also set off seismometers five different times during the game. The Seattle Seahawks' fans have again set a noise record, taking back a mark they achieved earlier this season.
University of Washington Earth and Space Sciences Professor John Vidale says that the school's seismometer, located not far from the stadium, detected seismic activity five separate times during the Seahawks latest win over New Orleans. The University of Washington seismology lab first recorded what is now called the "Beastquake" almost three years ago, when Marshawn Lynch completed a 67-yard touchdown run against the Saints.
The sound pain threshold for humans is 120-130 decibels. Any sound above 85 dB can cause hearing loss (the loss is related both to the power of the sound as well as the length of exposure). A 10 decibel increase in sound is perceived as half the amount of sound to the human ear. A 10 decibel decrease in sound is perceived as half the amount of reduced sound to the human ear.
To put this 137.6 decibels of sound in perspective, the following are some incredibly
Rock Concert Speakers - A 400,000 Watt rock concert or a similar set of speakers mounted in a vehicle can reach ear-splitting decibel levels of 135-145 decibel sound waves.
NHRA Dragsters - Sitting next to a dragster as it fires up its engines and screams down the raceway can be more than just loud; it can be damaging to your entire body. At the 155-160 Decibel range not only will it severely to permanently damage your hearing, but it also vibrates your vision and makes it temporarily difficult to swallow. That’s why no one stands next to them.
One Ton TNT Bomg - Standing as close as 250 feet away from the impact, the resulting explosion from a 1 ton bomb creates a decibel count of 210. Without sufficient hearing protection, not to mention a complete sound-resistant bunker surrounding you, you could quite literally die from the intense vibrations that would literally shake you apart. Unless, of course, you were under the bomb.
Fireworks - Though not typically heard up close by most people, fireworks are still explosions and are very loud, even though they are not typically loud from far away. The sound heard from the sky is pretty loud, though not damaging, but at the bursting point the decibel levels reach a staggering 145-150. Even tests are performed under strict sound proofing to avoid any ear injury.
Call of the Blue Whale - While most people won't hear this sound in real time, blue whales mostly emit very loud, highly structured, repetitive low-frequency rumbling sounds that can travel for many miles underwater. These songs may be used for communicating with other blue whales, especially in order to attract and find mates. The call of the blue whale reaches levels up to 188 decibels. This extraordinarily loud whistle can be heard for hundreds of miles underwater. The whale is the loudest, and, the largest animal on earth.
Gunfire - Gunfire for anyone unfortunate enough to be standing near it can be quite damaging to the ears registering at approximately 145-155 decibels. Wearing hearing protection on the firing range is highly advisable.
Space Shuttle Launch - When the rockets fire, it is not only wise, but in fact, it is fully enforced that you stand at least a half-mile away. If you don't, you will get inundated by 165-170 decibels of painful sound. Unlike many other loud noises, the shuttle rocket sound is constant as it creates the thrust necessary to lift it from the ground.
Next door, Jay Chester cringes from the sound. For him, it’s a constant barrage of noise — an intrusion on what he considers an otherwise peaceful refuge.
Both residents work from home: Marcus as a piano instructor and Chester as an Internet developer. They also have another thing in common: a shared dining room wall that connects their condominiums.
Coincidentally they both moved into their homes within months of each other in 2008.
The feud between neighbors has been escalating for years. It’s gone from friendly exchanges over the backyard fence to hostile encounters in the street and terse letters written to city officials.
Ultimately the fight led to the city’s revocation of the permit Marcus needs to teach piano lessons from her home.
But she’s not ready to give up. She appealed the decision to the City Council, which will decide later this month who will win the battle.
There is only one other permit issued for residential piano lessons in the city, and it has been held since 1999, said Brian Leveille, associate planner.
This is the first home occupation permit issued for home businesses to be revoked in the past five years, said Leveille, who called the situation “quite unusual.”
Both Marcus and Chester pleaded their cases before the city’s Planning Commission in December, which led to a 5-1 vote in support of revoking Marcus’ permit to give piano lessons from her home.
Chester argues that the “continuous cacophony of noise being produced by the grand piano on the other side of the common wall Mrs. Marcus and I share has been a constant nuisance.”
He’s made multiple short video clips — which he titled “piano pollution” — from his home to prove his point.
He also alleges that the continual coming and going of cars as students arrive and are picked up has proved to be a problem in their shared driveway and the nearby, narrow street.
Marcus says she has done everything she can to accommodate those concerns — including asking her clients to park in a specific location directly in front of her garage.
She claims that the cost of soundproofing her home, such as building an acoustical wall, is not feasible.
“On my side of the wall, there is a very large tapestry hanging,” Chester said. “I didn’t put it on my wall because I like tapestries. I went online to look for soundproofing options, and it said they help.”
But it still hasn’t muted the sound Chester is trying to be rid of.
Marcus is now offering to discontinue her use of the grand piano and use an upright piano on which to teach her students.
“It is a personal sacrifice for me as a musician to give up the use of this lovely instrument that I have owned for 45 years, but it is worth it to me in order to resolve the issue,” Marcus wrote in her appeal to the City Council.
Chester said that offer is not enough.
“This is just not the right environment for the business she is trying to run here,” Chester said. “The noise is constant and chronic. This is my home, my refuge, my sanctuary, and I should be able to enjoy it without piano music in the background.”
About The Tribune
Founded in 1869 by District Attorney Walter Murray in what is now Mission Plaza, The Tribune is the oldest continuously operating business in the city of San Luis Obispo and one of the oldest enterprises in San Luis Obispo County.
There are no specific noise standards, criteria or assessment methodologies which cover this type of noise complaint. The impulsive nature of the noise becomes more noticeable during the night when the overall noise environment is quieter. The intermittent and constant nature of movements makes this type of noise very intrusive. What is it?
Bridge Joints and Expansion Joints
An expansion is an assembly designed to safely absorb the heat-induced expansion and contraction of construction materials, to absorb vibration, to hold parts together, or to allow movement due to ground settlement or earthquakes. They are commonly found between sections of buildings, bridges, sidewalks, railway tracks, piping systems, ships, and other structures.
Expansion and contraction caused by temperature changes, shortening and creep caused by pre-stressing, deflections caused by live loads (moving, variable weight added to the dead load or intrinsic weight of a structure or vehicle), and longitudinal forces caused by vehicular traffic all combine to produce nearly continuous motion in highway bridges. Bridge expansion joints are designed to permit the longitudinal movement and small rotations presented on bridge decks. While there are many types of bridge joint systems in use today, they can be classified as either open or closed joint systems.
Yes, Bridge Joints are Noisy!
Bridge joints make noise and a loud noise at that. When in your vehicle, you may hear a muffled noise, but those within earshot hear a much louder noise. When travelling over bridge joints in a motorized vehicle, it creates a short noise impulse that can range from 70-105 decibels on a sound meter. How loud is that? As loud as a garbage disposal, dishwasher, lawnmower, and even sometimes if the bridge joint is broken or damaged, it can get as loud as a bulldozer.
Causes of Bridge Joint Noise
Noise events due to vehicles passing over bridge expansion joints occur when vehicle tires strike the rectangular face of the expansion joint units and traverse the discontinuous surface profile. It can also be induced by the unevenness of the surface of the expansion joint itself and of the road surface before and after the joint.
In addition, bridge joints wear out and come loose creating an uneven surface (see photo to the right). This often jostles empty tractor trailers and creates an additional booming sound that can exceed 80 decibels. Residents who live near bridges often hear the continuous noise all day and night long.
Noise not only occurs on top of the bridge deck, but also under the bridge near the abutments. An environmental noise nuisance results from the interaction of vibration of the bridge expansion joint with acoustic resonances produced inside the abutment void space below the joint (see photo below). Often times, bicycle and walking trails pass directly under bridges and they are often less than 10 feet from the noise source. The loud impulse noise that can reach 105 decibels, thus becomes a problem with pedestrians, often resulting in complaints to the county or bridge owner.
Bridge Joint Noise Draws Complaints to Bridge Owner
Loud and constant bridge joint noise or secondary noises like the jostling of trailers on tractors, is an annoyance for people living near the bridge. It's another loud noise they have to contend with in their environment, an environment already filled with loud noises from jet airplanes, trains, construction equipment, traffic, and small engine powered tools such as lawnmowers and leaf blowers.
Acoustiblok and RJ Watson Develop New System to Mitigate Bridge Deck Joint Noise
Working jointly, Acoustiblok Inc. and R.J. Watson Inc. have developed a new system to meitigate bridge deck joint noise. They recently completed a test of the new Bridge Joint Isolation Material (B-JIM) system at a bridge in Hillsborough County, Florida that was having bridge joint noise problems. Results showed that Acoustiblok sound mitigating material is effective at reducing bridge joint noise problems when they occur at bridge deck joints. Without Acoustiblok, bridge joint noise reached as high as 105 dBA during a vehicular impact with the bridge joint. With Acoustiblok, that noise was reduced to 83 dBA, which is a 99% reduction in pressure and a 73% perceived reduction in sound.
R.J. Watson of Alden, NY, is the exclusive seller of this new system. The company is a world wide designer, manufacturer and supplier of bridge bearings, seismic isolation disk bearings, multirotational disk bearings, uplift bearings, bridge expansion joints and spray applied membrane for the bridge and highway industry.
News article about a typical bridge joint noise issue.
R J Watson....
It creates stress and stimulates aggression and other social behaviors. It causes headaches, makes you irritable, and can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. It can raise your blood pressure and cause heart disease and hearing loss over time. Surely, this sounds like something that has to be dealt with. What is it? Noise.
Where are the ad campaigns informing people of the dangers of excessive noise? Where are the public service announcements aimed at educating youth and adults about the health effects of constant loud noise? They are rarely seen. The closest thing we see or hear are warnings and announcements aimed at youths who listen to loud music in headphones. It's time to start spreading the word.
Noise that is experienced by people who did not produce it is called second hand-noise. Like secondhand smoke, secondhand noise can have negative impacts on people without their consent. Exposure to secondhand noise occurs in many places such as homes, the workplace, restaurants and bars, on a city street, at a park, and many other places we frequent.
Some examples of secondhand noise include:
- An airplane flying over your house or place of residence
- Trains traveling near your home or workplace all day long
- Cars, trucks, tractor trailers, buses and motorcycles driving up and down the roads
- Construction workers using jack hammers or operating heavy equipment like bulldozers
- A constant humming noise of a neighbor’s loud HVAC unit running constantly
- A neighbor with a dog that barks constantly
- Noise coming from excessively loud car stereos
- Loud noise from small engine powered landscaping machines.
We experience noise in a number of ways. On some occasions, we can be both the cause and the victim of noise, such as when we are operating noisy appliances or equipment. There are also instances when we experience noise generated by others just as people experience second-hand smoke. While in both instances, noises are equally damaging, second-hand noise is more troubling because it has negative impacts on us but is put into the environment by others, without our consent. And it’s nearly impossible to avoid these days. While noise regulations worldwide have helped regulate the amount of noise that a person or machine can create at a given time of the day, most police departments seem to be unwilling or unable to respond to noise-related problems in a way that provides any measure of genuine or timely control. The amount of man-made noise in the environment is still a serious problem.
Let’s face it, eliminating secondhand noise is virtually impossible in the 21st century as things stand today. Even staying in your house or place of residence can’t keep secondhand noise out. It’s getting harder and harder to find quiet environments. While separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, opening windows, and ventilating buildings can eliminate secondhand smoke exposure, it’s much more difficult with sound and noise. Unlike light waves, sound waves travel through walls of the places we live, work, and frequent. While it’s impossible to eliminate all noise in an environment, there are ways that you can mitigate the amount of entering walls of buildings.
More widespread use of sound mitigating materials in the structure of buildings at the construction phase would help give people a quieter place to escape too void of outside noises. Modern soundproofing materials such as Acoustiblok and Quietfiber for example, can reduce noise inside to a more comfortable level.
An anechoic chamber (an-echoic meaning non-echoing or echo-free) is a room designed to completely absorb reflections of either sound or electromagnetic waves. They are insulated from exterior sources of noise. The combination of both aspects means they simulate a quiet open-space of infinite dimension, which is useful when exterior influences would otherwise give false results.
While it sounds like a dream come true for anyone seeking a quiet and peaceful place, it can be a little unnerving. It's not a place you would want to hang out in because all of a sudden you're in an environment where there is no reflection of sound, and your usual perception is gone. It can be creepy, unnerving and cause hallucinations.
Anechoic chambers are used by a multitude of manufacturers to test how loud their products are. Anechoic chambers are also used to test microphones and other audio equipment, but the lack of reverb creates a peculiar effect on the ears. They feel stuffy and plugged because, in jarring contrast to the noise encountered throughout the day, the ears aren't getting any feedback from the environment. After sitting in a confined space devoid of echoes for long enough, some people report hearing their own heartbeats, respiration and other bodily functions, a phenomenon termed "auto-emissive noise."
Anechoic chambers range from small compartments the size of household microwave ovens to ones as large as aircraft hangars. The size of the chamber depends on the size of the objects to be tested and the frequency range of the signals used, although scale models can sometimes be used by testing at shorter wavelengths. Apple and Microsoft have one, so does the U.S. military and many universities just a few. E&C Anechoic Chambers is a world leader in development and manufacturing of microwave absorbing materials and anechoic chambers. They use the chamber to test everything from cars, busses, jet airplanes, computers, satellites and other things.
Anechoic chambers, a term coined by American acoustics expert Leo Beranek, were originally used in the context of acoustics (sound waves) to minimize the reflections of a room. More recently, rooms designed to reduce reflection and external noise in radio frequencies have been used to test antennae, radars, or electromagnetic interference.
Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Orfield Laboratores, and even the U.S. government has one and so do many universities. The anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboraties in South Minneapolis is 99.99 per cent sound absorbent and holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s quietest place. It achieves its ultra-quietness by virtue of 3.3-foot-thick fiberglass acoustic wedges, double walls of insulated steel and foot-thick concrete. But stay there too long and you may start hallucinating. The company’s founder and president, Steven Orfield said in a published article, “We challenge people to sit in the chamber in the dark. When it’s quiet, ears will adapt. The quieter the room, the more things you hear. You'll hear your heart beating; sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound. This is a very disorientating experience.”
We walk around in environments that are naturally noisy. We live in more and more mechanized societies and that has created even more noise. Remove all of that noise and it gives you a different sensation. But your ears didn't change. While the idea of hearing your own blood rushing through your arteries is odd, it’s only odd because you haven't listened to it before. But it's always been there.
How we orient yourself on earth is through sounds you hear when you walk. In the anechoic chamber, you don't have any cues. You take away the perceptual cues that allow you to balance and maneuver.