It was a Thursday night and I was on my way home from a business networking function. I was hungry and the NBA finals game was on TV so I thought, “is there something good in my neighborhood?”
So I pulled into Applebees and walked toward the door. A couple exited while I was walking up toward the door and the sound of Darius Rucker’s song Wagon Wheel roared out the open door. I thought to myself, did that just come from Applebee’s or someone’s car stereo. So I entered the door and low and behold, Applebees had become part restaurant and part night club complete with a live DJ and loud amplified speakers.
I grabbed a wooden bar table which was located a few feet from the large wooden center bar. The server approaches and oddly leans in within about 2 inches of my face and asks what she can get me tonight. So I order an old favorite.
After listening to the songs Radioactive by the Imagine Dragons, All My Ex’s Live in Texas by George Straight, and Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke Feat at night club level, my chicken quesadilla arrived jumping and bumping. With my foot tapping, my head bobbing, and eyes focused on the basketball game, I set out to enjoy this normally reliable late night appetizer. But after a two pieces, it just wasn’t as tasty as it normally is. Something seemed different to my senses even though it looked the same. I even opened up a few pieces to check the ingredients inside the shell. What was going on? Should I complain to the manager about the taste? What if it’s not the food but it’s me?
So I did what anyone who works for a sound proofing company would do: pull up the sound meter app on my Galaxy S3 smartphone and take a few readings. They read 87, 89 and 89 decibels. Those levels seemed more like night club noise levels than comfortable restaurant noise levels. Regular conversational speech occurs at approximately 60 decibels so patrons had to talk at louder levels which increased the total sound levels for the room. A vacuum cleaner runs at about 70 decibels and a garbage disposal at 80. Traffic on a busy roadway reaches sound levels between 80-90 decibels. A jackhammer can reach 100 decibels. A 10-12 decibel difference in sound level is perceived as half the sound to the human ear.
Then it hit me. Was this abnormally loud music interfering with my ability to experience the same taste as I normally do when the DJ is not playing loud music?
My Food Was Drowning in Loud Noise
An article I read earlier that day for a project popped into my head. The article was on The Scientific American website and was titled, “Restaurant Noise Can Alter Food Taste.” It said a noisy restaurant may drown out the taste of your food, making it bland. That’s exactly how my normally tasty quesadilla was tasting: bland. The Article referenced a study in the Food Quality and Preference Journal titled, "Effect of background noise on food perception [A.T. Woods et al]."
In the study, researchers recruited 48 college students, and fitted them with headphones playing either loud white noise, soft white noise, or nothing at all. Then the participants closed their eyes and chomped on snack foods like Pringles and cookies. The researchers discovered that the students listening to blaring static rated the chips as less salty and the cookies as less sweet—even though they were tasting the same foods as the other groups.
Other studies have shown that sound can interfere with how the brain processes smell; the researchers say the same could be true for taste. Does loud noise divert attention from the food's flavor?
Restaurant Noise Ratings Are Starting to Appear
Diners and restaurant critics seem to agree that the noise level in a restaurant can make or break the dining experience. It’s a fine balance. If there's too much noise, customers may feel crowded and overwhelmed. If there's too little noise, customers may feel like their conversations can be overheard by absolutely everyone in the place.
Restaurant raters have taken note. Yelp has begun listing noise levels atop its ratings. OpenTable, a reservations service, allows reviewers to rate restaurants as "quiet," "moderate" or "energetic." Several national restaurant reviewers now factor sonic quality into their reports. The Rundown LA, which sends email blasts on local activities, provides noise ratings when it reviews eateries.
According to the nationwide Zagat survey, noise has become the second-biggest complaint among diners, behind lousy service. In Los Angeles, 18 percent of diners ranked noise as their top peeve last year, up from 12 percent in 2010.
Sources of Restaurant Noise
Restaurant acoustics is influenced by several variables including spacial arrangement, shape of the walls and ceiling, materials used, construction methods used, etc. Poor restaurant acoustics begins with noise. The following are some problem noise areas:
- Human conversation: Diners hold conversations during dinner. Multiply this noise by the hundreds, plus add in noise from other sources that cause diners to have to talk at higher than normal sound levels, and it often creates a very noisy environment.
- Bar and waiting areas: Certain areas in a restaurant are more active like around the bar and waiting area where patrons tend to be louder than in other areas.
- Building systems: This equipment can cause unwanted noise. A loud HVAC system can cause a build-up of noise forcing diners to increase their noise level. Noise from plumbing pipes can also be an unwanted noise source.
- Music: Most restaurants play music in the dining area which can cover other annoying sounds, such as HVAC or plumbing noise. Some play live music. If a restaurant is very reverberant and has high ceilings and a lot of reflective surfaces, music can add to the high noise problem.
- Exterior, Traffic and Roadway Noise: Noises from outside the restaurant, like traffic, construction, or the nearby neighborhood can also impact the interior of the restaurant. This can be a serious problem for restaurants near major highways, roadways, railways or airports.
- Adjacent Occupancies - Restaurants in shared buildings can get noise from adjacent occupants through walls between the two spaces.
- Public Address Systems/Intercoms - Some restaurants use loud intercom systems, which project sound, in their waiting areas during busy times to let then know their table is ready.
- The Kitchen: Many restaurants now have open kitchen designs, however in all kitchens, noise sources include clanging of pots, pans and dishes and talking among kitchen employees and service staff.
Acoustics and Sound Waves
A room’s acoustics have to do with the way sound travels, echoes, reverberates and resonates inside it. Concert halls, for example, are specifically designed to have just the right amount of reverberation. In many restaurants, there is very little sound absorption in these large rooms. especially in newer restaurants, and as a result, restaurant noise levels are on the rise despite many people not even realizing it.
Some restaurateurs are getting the message however and are looking for a middle ground between aesthetics and acoustics. At Applebee’s that night, they were playing louder than normal music more in line with night club sound levels. This type of special night is part of Applebee's efforts to bring excitement back into the restaurant in the evenings when they have drink and food happy hour prices. However, hard surfaces in the restaurant, such as the large wooden center bar; wooden tables, stools, booth benches; woodem tables amd wall paneling, and hard tile floor adds to the reflective nature of the noise.
The way sound vibrations and waves behave affects the sounds we hear. Like any wave, a sound wave doesn't just stop when it reaches the end of the medium or when it encounters an obstacle in its path. Rather, a sound wave will undergo certain behaviors when it encounters the end of the medium or an obstacle. Possible behaviors include reflection off the obstacle, diffraction around the obstacle, and transmission (accompanied by refraction) into the obstacle or new medium
When a sound wave hits a hard, smooth surface, it bounces off it and changes direction. The hard surface reflects the sound in the same way as a mirror reflects light. Rigid, hard surfaces, such as wood, stone, brick or tiling (all commonly used materials in restaurants), reflect the most sound. The reflected sound waves travel back past your cars, so you hear the same sound again. Any sound energy that is not reflected is either absorbed or diffused. If it is absorbed, the energy is soaked up by the material. If it is diffused, it bounces off the surface but the waves are scattered and the sound becomes muffled.
One Potential Solution
There are many acoustical products that can be used to quiet restaurant noise such as sound panels, baffles, wall covering, ceiling panels, and acoustic insulation. Many restaurant owners mistakenly attribute loud noise to a positive user experience. They think if it’s a busy, bustling and noisy place, the customers will have a good experience. Noise can be a good thing, but only if it’s controlled and not seen as a nuisance. So resaturant owners, like most in the residential and commercial building industry, are still only mildly incorporating acoustics planning into new construction projects.
Using modern acoustical materials such as Acoustiblok’s Quietfiber can reduce restaurasnt noise. The unique thing about it is its high NRC which is 1.00 unlike normal sound panels. This material can be wrapped with any fabric and put underneath tables, bars, on top of other places where you cannot see it. But nonetheless, it’s a point of sound absorption in which the sound will decay and not reflect off of. The more material that you can put in a room, the easier it is for dialogue and articulation with conversations of multiple people.
Residential standby generators may not keep you safe or be important during a tornado, but when electrical power stations and electrical lines are knocked out and hundreds of thousands of homes are left without power, standby generators do make this difficult time more tolerable for as the system is repaired. Standby generators do not run all the time, but when they do run, most are typically loud and emit sound levels ranging from 65 – 100 plus decibels, which often times annoy neighbors who don't have generators and exceed most community noise ordinances.
Being without electrical power after a storm causes increased anxiety to those affected. Living near neighbors that operate loud standby generators without soundproofing will cause increased anxiety and tension during an already difficult situation. A generator enclosure is the generator's first line of defense against the elements. It’s important to not only keep it in good condition, but also important to have proper soundproofing materials built into your enclosure to absorb the noise and keep it to a tolerable level. Keeping your neighbors up with loud generator noise during power outages may make a normally nice neighbor not so pleasant.
USA - Tornado Alley of the World
According to Live Science.com, in terms of absolute tornado counts, the United States leads the list globally, with an average of more than 1,000 tornadoes recorded each year. A distant second is Canada, with around 100 per year. Eighty percent of tornadoes are EF0 and EF1 (T0 through T3) tornadoes. The rate of occurrence drops off quickly with increasing strength—less than 1 percent are violent tornadoes (EF4, T8 or stronger).Outside Tornado Alley, and North America in general, violent tornadoes are extremely rare.
Mother Nature Network.com website says that in the United States, tornado season tends to move northward from late winter to mid-summer. In Southern states, tornado season is typically from March to May. In the Southern Plains, it lasts from May to early June. On the Gulf Coast, tornadoes occur most often during the spring. And in the Northern Plains, Northern states and upper Midwest, peak season is in June or July.
The two regions with a disproportionately higher incidence of tornadoes are Florida and an area in the Midwest known as Tornado Alley, a large strip of land going north to south that covers the northern region of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, the eastern edge of Colorado, southwest tip of South Dakota and the southern edge of Minnesota.
Florida’s high tornado frequency is the direct result of their daily thunderstorms coming from the ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the many tropical storms and hurricanes that affect the Florida peninsula.
In the Gulf Coast region, Dixie Alley refers to West Tennessee, West Kentucky, North Mississippi and North Alabama. These states experience a significantly later tornado season that occurs in the late fall from October through December.
Worst Tornado Outbreak Ever Recorded
The April 25–28, 2011 tornado outbreak was the largest tornado outbreak ever recorded. The outbreak affected the Southern, Midwestern, and Northeastern United States, leaving catastrophic destruction in its wake, especially across the state of Alabama. It produced destructive tornadoes in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia, and affected many other areas throughout the Southern and Eastern United States. In total, 358 tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in 21 states from Texas to New York and in southern Canada. Widespread and destructive tornadoes occurred on each day of the outbreak, with April 27 being the most active day with a record of 205 tornadoes touching down that day. Four of the tornadoes were destructive enough to be rated EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which is the highest ranking possible; typically these tornadoes are only recorded about once each year or less. In total, 348 people were killed as a result of the outbreak.
Power Outages Are Common With Tornadoes
Many severe tornadoes bring destruction to property and to electrical systems in large cities and small communities. Despite the U.S. tornado warning program, which began in 1957, death tolls – even with a growing population – have steadily decreased. Even with today's technology, there's still no way to control where these violent and destructive tornadoes go and what they will hit.
Media reports estimated that during the Alabama tornado outbreak on April 27 an estunated 262,000 electric “customers” (individual homes and businesses) were without electrical power. The electric utility industry assumes 3-4 people per customer which translates to approximately 786,000 to 1.4 million people being temporarily without electricity temporarily for a prolonged period of time. It can take anywhere from a few days to as many as 10 days or longer sometimes, depending on the situation and the damage.
Standby Generators: Remember the Soundproofing
All we can do to combat severe storms is to be prepared before they strike. These storms can develop quickly. Electrical power outages in general are happening more and more frequently not only in the United States but across the world. Having a standby generator system in place can make power outages much less burdensome.
Today's modern digital economy runs on a clean, abundant, and reliable source of power. Issues related to quality and reliable supply of power is driving up demand for backup residential and commercial generators worldwide. Having a standby generator with an enclosure that is properly soundproofed provides a win-win situation for you and your neighbors.
Power outages trigger standby generator systems to automatically switch to generator power until local power is restored. Your backup power system, which typically runs on your home’s existing natural gas line or by diesel fuel, will start and switch power to your home within 10-20 seconds. In most cases, having a generator installed not only will pay for itself, but it will increase the value of your home by several thousand dollars. The excessive noise caused by standby generators is usually an issue that is learned the hard way by generator owners.
So when you purchase your home standby generator, it's important not to forget about the controlling the noise it will make while running. Soundproofing your enclosure will give you the peace of mind that your neighbors won't be calling the authorities complaining about excessive noise coming from your generator at night. These complaints can lead to expensive fines and citations for violating noise ordinances.
Source: PR Web Press Release:
San Jose, CA (PRWEB) October 29, 2012 - Globally, the residential generators market is witnessing growth primarily due to an unprecedented increase in consumer demand for electricity in the residential sector. National grids in many countries worldwide are taking on increasing pressure due to growing electrification and urbanization. The result is the rise in the frequency and number of electricity grid failures leading to power outages. Such energy shortages are prevalent in more than 80 countries globally, indicative of the seriousness of the problem. The situation has been triggering demand for standby power and thereby for generators, both for commercial and residential usage. While power outages and changing lifestyles have their own place in the hierarchy of growth drivers, the growing affordability of generators is becoming a major factor pushing consumers towards purchasing generators. In the context, with continuous spell of falling prices, the affordability of standby generators has been a major factor driving overall sales in the segment through the past decade.
Technological developments with the promise of enhancing fuel efficiency and operation of gensets also go a long way in increasing sales. The residential Standby Generators market is expected to provide huge growth opportunities in future. Despite high growth in the recent past, the market is relatively unsaturated and is expected to witness rapid growth in future also. Environmental performance has of late become a major criterion for several consumers who are growing increasingly aware of the impact of their lifestyle on the environment. Present day generators are more environment-friendly due to the incorporation of technologies such as electronic governors, and automatic voltage regulation. Presently, few smart generators are even capable of being monitored through the Internet.
Energy generator systems such as electrical generators, including diesel generators, are poised to benefit from the escalation in demand for power, constant changes in the energy policies world over, and rapid technological developments in the power generation equipment sector. Developments in the environment for power generation and distribution are especially poised to spur demand for generators in general. Installation of new power generation plants and the routine replacement of energy generation equipment directly translates into additional demand for power generator sets. In developed markets like Europe, and North America, aging energy infrastructure will provide opportunities for equipment replacements, upgradations and modernization Also, given that the modern digital economy runs on a clean, abundant, and reliable source of power, issues related to quality and reliable supply of power will drive demand for backup generators. Unreliable and disruptive power slices away a whopping US$50 billion from the US economy alone each year and issues related to outages, brownouts, and blackouts will continue to create business opportunities for generators worldwide.
As stated by the new market research report on Residential Generators, Asia-Pacific represents the largest regional market worldwide, sustained by massive demand from evolving markets of China and India. The region is also poised to display the fastest compounded annual growth rate of 7.7% through 2018. The residential generators market in Asia evolved at a rapid pace over the last decade. Sustained and robust economic growth, rising household income, boom in real estate and huge infrastructure projects makes the region a promising manufacturing hub. The Indian power backup market is a fast growing and lucrative market primarily due to persistent power shortages in the country. In China, the demand for electricity in residential and commercial segments is rising in tandem with the growing economic activity. China presents tremendous opportunity for generation as well as consumption of electric power. The development of electric power industry in China is vital for the growth of the country’s economy, and is therefore expected to witness continued growth over the long-term.
Major players profiled in the report include Baldor Electric Company, Briggs & Stratton Power Products Group, Cummins, Inc., Eaton Corporation, Generac® Power Systems Inc., General Electric Company, Generators.ie, Honda Power Equipment, and Kohler Power System, among others.
The research report titled “Residential Generators: A Global Strategic Business Report” announced by Global Industry Analysts Inc., provides a comprehensive review of the residential generators markets, industry and product overview, key growth drivers, product introductions and innovations and profiles of major/niche global as well as regional market participants. The report provides annual sales estimates and projections for residential generators market for the years 2010 through 2018 in value terms (US$) for the following geographic markets – US, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Rest of World. The report also analyzes the global residential generators market in terms of unit sales. The study presents a six-year (2004-2009) historic analysis for additional perspective.
For more details about this comprehensive market research report, please visit –
About Global Industry Analysts, Inc.
Global Industry Analysts, Inc., (GIA) is a leading publisher of off-the-shelf market research. Founded in 1987, the company currently employs over 800 people worldwide. Annually, GIA publishes more than 1300 full-scale research reports and analyzes 40,000+ market and technology trends while monitoring more than 126,000 Companies worldwide. Serving over 9500 clients in 27 countries, GIA is recognized today, as one of the world's largest and reputed market research firms.
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The following are excerpts taken from an article titled: “Noise Reduction Within Your Practice: Meeting HIPAA Rules for Patient Privacy and Enhancing Healthcare Outcomes"
Written by Helen M. Torok, MD; Heather L. Funk, MBA; Aaron M. Funk, in the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology & Aesthitic Surgury’s journal called, Cosmetic Dermatology, issue August 2011, Vol. 24 No. 8
The full article can be read, downloaded and saved in PDF form at: http://www.cosderm.com/Article.aspx?ArticleId=HckRo/HUFhE=
Although much of HIPAA covers the safeguarding of electronic data and other patient records, one specific component addresses oral communication within the healthcare setting. Just after HIPAA privacy enforcement went into effect in 2003, Sykes and Miller(3) reported in Health Lawyers Weekly that a leading complaint from patients regarding direct care providers was concern about overheard conversations within the practice as a source of compromised privacy.
This finding came as a surprise to the reporters and others in the medical community, as the concern previously had not been recognized as a sore point. Since then, the medical profession has acknowledged the importance of this issue and has been working to develop ways to insure the privacy of conversations between patients and their health-care providers.
In many hospitals across the country, HUSH (Help Us Support Healing) campaigns have been initiated to improve patient care and overall satisfaction by implementing various noise-reduction measures.
Also contributing to excessive noise in today’s healthcare settings are the hard surfaces necessary to ensure cleanliness, as well as the advanced heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems that filter and deliver clean air to occupants. A recent Chicago Tribune article discussed studies that show the negative effects of noise on patient health in a medical setting, from stress and sleep deprivation to hypertension and tachycardia. The article also mentioned that current decibel levels in healthcare settings exceed the standards set by the World Health Organization.
Backup From Standards Organizations
The idea of a quieter work environment is not a new one, and there are a variety of technologies in place to deal with the problem as well as objective standards for proving that a medical practice or healthcare provider has done its best to comply with HIPAA.
Organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization, the American National Standards Institute, and ASTM International (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials) have provided ideas for noise reduction, and their support has been instrumental in winning medical privacy cases. These standards are applicable to a variety of industries and professions, including the fields of defense, finance, medical research, and law, and also are observed by the US General Services Administration, which manages federal building operations. It is possible to measure the noise levels of oral communication in the workplace according to government standards; best practices have been set and new tech-nologies have been developed to meet these standards. As of 2003, final modifications to the HIPAA Privacy Rule mandate that reasonable safeguards must be implemented to ensure speech privacy, and the HHS has clear expectations about what these safeguards entail.
According to HIPAA, the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange is named as the designated guide on technical matters for HHS and the Office for Civil Rights.(2) Today, healthcare centers and physician offices also are being designed with advice from entities such as the Healthcare Acoustics Research Team to assure compliance.
Products to Ensure Oral Privcy
A series of acoustical privacy products have undergone several levels of development and are installed in some 100 million square feet of new office space each year in healthcare, financial, and other office settings.(8) The utilization of panels and tiles are specific demonstrations, according to HIPAA, that indicate a healthcare facility or practice has made a bona fide effort to meet oral privacy needs.
Certain building materials can actually block sound waves from traveling through walls. To measure their effectiveness, these materials are assigned a Sound Transmission Class rating. Walls and windows, for instance, can be designed with this purpose in mind, but these noise-reduction products often are more expensive than traditional ones.
Another way to achieve sound diminution within your practice is to use surface materials that can absorb or deflect ambient sound waves, thus preventing reverberations from traveling around the room. This property is measured according to the Noise Reduction Coefficient, which rates how well a material absorbs sound.
Another measurement of noise-reduction technology is the Speech Intelligibility Index, which is calculated from acoustical measurements of speech and noise. Panels and other products can be designed to absorb certain frequencies of sound, meaning that although sound does get through, it is unintelligible and carries no meaning, which often has been called the “Charlie Brown effect” in reference to the popular Peanuts cartoons in which adult voices come across as unintelligible musical notes. Maintaining a low Speech Intelligibility Index is a proven way to achieve HIPAA compliance and can be easily achieved through various technologies in a medical practice.
Although active speech privacy systems such as white noise machines are popular, they do pose a few drawbacks; they mask meaningful conversation with perhaps even less-welcome noise rather than diminish sound levels altogether. Thus medical practitioners and patients may actually have to speak louder, increasing the likelihood that their conversations will be overheard, which is especially true in healthcare settings for older patients who already have compromised hearing and may rely on the use of hearing aids.
Adding noise to noise is adding pollution to pollution; in this sense, noise is the pollutant. It is similar to using a scented room refresher to mask noisome odors; it only adds to the overall smelliness of the room, and it can be harmful. A study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, showed that exposure to continuous white noise sabotages the development of the auditory region of the brain, which may ultimately impair hearing and language acquisition, at least in young rats.(10) Unlike passive devices such as sound-dampening panels, white noise machines require electricity and are not guaranteed reliability all the time.
Other Requirements for Sound Mitigation Products in Healthcare
Aside from the acoustic technology and speech privacy capabilities, other factors must be considered when selecting a sound-dampening product in a medical setting, including the product’s flammability rating and its ability to withstand the growth of germs, mold, and mildew. Some traditional sound panels, for instance, are wood framed with cotton inside. Obviously these materials are highly flammable and it is always essential to check a product’s fire rating. It is better to look for a product that is not as combustible; one particular panel on the market has a steel slag and basalt rock interior and is covered with a cloth that does not promote the growth of mold or mildew, meeting both flammability and antibiotic/antifungal standards. Uneven surfaces inside the panel cause the sound to get lost through deflection.
Today’s healthcare settings should put patients at ease while adding eye appeal. Look for sound-dampening panels and other products that offer a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors to customize the look and style to fit your specific needs. Panels can even be made into “sound clouds” for use on the ceiling. Some products on the market actually can be covered with messages you might wish to impart to patients, including advice about healthful living or introductions to new staff members.
It is imperative to make sure your dermatology practice or medical facility is compliant with HIPAA sound pri¬vacy mandates. Your staff also will benefit from working in a setting in which communication is made easier and less stressful.
All from Trillium Creek Dermatology and Aesthetic Center, Medina, Ohio. Dr. Torok also is from Northwestern Ohio University College of Medicine, Rootstown. The authors report no conflicts of interest in relation to this article.
Article References (and Additional Resources)
1. Standards for privacy of individually identifiable health informa¬tion; final rule. Fed Regist. 2002;67(157):53181-53273. To be codified at 45 CFR §160 and 164. http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/privacyrule/privruletxt.txt. Published August 14, 2002. Accessed June 23, 2011.
2. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, 42 USC §201 (2003).
3. Sykes DM, Miller SA. HIPAA privacy enforcement begins. Health Lawyers Weekly. October 2003.
4. H.U.S.H. campaign for a healing environment. Penobscot Valley Hospital Web site. http://www.pvhme.org/pvh.nsf/View/Hush. Published March 1, 2010. Accessed June 27, 2011.
5. Nightingale F. Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not. New York, NY: D. Appleton and Company; 1860.
6. Deardorff J. Hospitals drowning in noise. Chicago Tribune. April 24, 2011. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-04-24/health/ct-met-hospital-noise-20110424_1_hospitals-neonatal-intensive-care-unit-noise. Accessed June 15, 2011.
7. Strategic National Implementation Process. Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange Web site. http://www.wedi.org/snip.Accessed July 8, 2011.
8. Sykes DM, Miller SA. Oral Communications: Myths and Facts [white paper]. Reston, VA: Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange; January 2004.
9. Health information privacy. US Department of Health and Human Services Web site. http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/faq/safeguards/197.html. Updated March 14, 2006. Accessed July 18, 2011.
10. White noise delays auditory organization in brain [news release]. ScienceDaily; April 18, 2003. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/04/030418081607.htm. Accessed July 15, 2011. n
READ MORE: Related Information
About Dr. Helen M. Torok, MD
Trillium Creek Dermatology and Aesthetic Center, Medina, Ohio
Oral privacy breeches are embarrassing for patients and could be costly for healthcare providers in severe situations. Unfortunately, soundproofing is one of the last things that medical practices think about when it comes to office design. Is it cost? Is it that acoustics, soundproofing and noise issues have not been a priority in the past? Typically, healthcare providers are more concerned about the protection of electronically stored information than about protecting information transmitted orally. Soundproofing can be the missing element in most facilities towards creating total privacy that patients expect and deserve.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, commonly known as HIPAA, was enacted by the United States Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996. Title I of HIPAA protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs. Title II of HIPAA, known as the Administrative Simplification (AS) provisions, requires the establishment of national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers. Per the requirements of Title II, the HHS promulgated five rules regarding Administrative Simplification: the Privacy Rule, the Transactions and Code Sets Rule, the Security Rule, the Unique Identifiers Rule, and the Enforcement Rule.
The Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information (“Privacy Rule”) established, for the first time, a set of national standards for the protection of certain health information. The regulation increased consumer control over the use and disclosure of their medical information. It also established appropriate safeguards that must be followed to protect the privacy of patients' health information.
The Privacy Rule regulates the use and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI) held by "covered entities." These entities are generally health care clearinghouses, employer sponsored health plans, health insurers, and medical service providers that engage in certain transactions.
Everyone now has a right to oral privacy with concern to his or her PHI. The Office of Civil Rights accepts complaints for alleged violations of the HIPAA privacy rule by covered entities. A fact sheet is available at the OCR website at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacyhowtofile.htm. Violations are expensive. Penalties for non-compliance can cost providers up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison.
While oral privacy is only one part of the exhaustive HIPAA regulation, it is also one of the more subjective areas in terms of interpretation. The Privacy Rule requires physicians to use appropriate administrative, technical, and security safeguards to protect the privacy of protected health information — including oral communications. But what safeguarding measures are and aren’t enough?
While the Privacy Rule does “not” require structural changes be made to facilities, it does require that that they make reasonable efforts to prevent prohibited uses and disclosures not permitted by the Rule. The Department does not consider facility restructuring to be a requirement under this standard. The Privacy Rule does not require the following types of structural or systems changes:
• Private rooms
• Soundproofing of rooms
• Encryption of wireless or other emergency medical radio communications which can be intercepted by scanners
• Encryption of telephone systems.
In the absence of stringent guidelines for safeguarding PHI, the HHS Department has indicated that it will look at what other “prudent” professionals are doing to protect oral privacy when determining whether a covered entity has taken adequate measures to avoid having conversations overheard
In a democracy, the objective of laws is to serve the best interests of the people and reflect their highest aspirations. Contained within the “letter of the law” is the purpose or intent, which is termed the "spirit of the law." For any given law, the spirit of the law is the hope for change, or benefit, that the law will produce, as predicted by the designers of the law. In other words, laws are tools that are intended to be useful and beneficial. Since the spirit of the law is the reason for its existence, many believe the letter of the law is subordinate to the problem-solving intent of the law and covered entities should go above and beyond to meet the spirit of the law. When it comes to HIPAA oral privacy, installing soundproofing to ensure patients get total privacy meets the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. It enables covered entities to meet the intent of the law. It's just the right thing to do for patients and could also keep a practice our of legal complexities and help prevent fines.
Evaluating Your Medical Facility’s Oral Privacy Issues
Your own ear is the best testing and measurement instrument available. If you can overhear any conversations that are meant to be private in any area you will need to provide reasonable safeguards to protect against incidental disclosure.
You don't need to be a sound engineer to evaluate if you have a problem with oral privacy in your facility. A simple audit and walk-through of any facility will indicate whether there is a problem or not. If you’re unsure whether noise is a problem in your practice, it’s easy to evaluate – simply spend a few moments in your exam rooms, your waiting room/reception area and your staff break room and focus on what you’re hearing including where the noise is originating and the intensity/volume of the noise. You may also want to consultant an acoustic specialist – a professional who assesses environments for noise and provides guidance to soundproof your space.
In regard to industry-accepted measurements for oral privacy, industry standards for speech (oral) privacy, three recognized standards are used for the measurement of the intelligibility of sound (conversations):
• ISO (International Standards Organization)
• ASTM (American National Standards Institute)
• ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials)
These standards and principles are used by sound engineers to measure and evaluate relative sound levels. The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) has existed for decades. ASTM has been providing quantifiable practices, tools, and measurements to assess speech privacy levels. For years, speech privacy professionals have used ASTM standards to establish acceptable and unacceptable levels of normal and confidential speech privacy for business and health care facilities alike.
ASTM measures speech privacy by using an articulation index (AI). AI represents how all elements in and properties of a space affect the ability to understand speech. AI is expressed as a decimal value between 0 (speech is unintelligible) and 1.00 (speech is completely intelligible). An AI of .20 or less will result in a space that provides normal to confidential speech privacy.
It is important to understand that a conversation is considered private if it is an unintelligible conversation (one that cannot be discernible) to a nonparticipant. This type of conversation will not jeopardize the oral privacy rights of an individual.
In many doctor’s offices across the country, conversations can be heard through the walls of patient rooms. Sound travels not only in a straight path from its source but also bounces off partitions, bends around barriers, and squeezes through small openings, all of which can allow noise to reach surprisingly far beyond its point of origin.
Sound radiates spherically. Even if the sound source is facing one direction, the sound it produces will travel in all directions. Sound will move from one room to another through direct and indirect paths. It is important to understand that while sound can travel through air pockets like ductwork, stud and ceiling joist cavities, it can also be conducted along studs, joists, pipes, concrete and glass. Sound vibration uses a rigid surface to travel.
When sound strikes any surface, some sound energy is reflected, some absorbed, and some transmitted into the adjacent space. The sound that we hear in typical rooms is made up of two parts: Direct sound, the sound that arrives at our ears directly from the sound source; reflected sound, the sound that has reflected from a room boundary surface.
Sound is measured in decibels in intervals of 10. A typical conversation occurs at approximately 60-70 decibels. Sound transmission through a wall or floor depends primarily on the mass of the construction. The following are some sound transmission losses of typical building elements:
Soundproofing isn't a cure-all to saving healthcare facilities from penalties resulting from oral privacy breeches, but it may be one of the most beneficial places to start. Soundproofing will not control when and where patient information is discussed. It will however, significantly mitigate the sound through absorption, damping, or blocking. Given that many healthcare facilities are in older, uninsulated buildings, adding soundproofing will go a long way toward ensuring better patient privacy.
Soundproofing can be achieved in a variety of ways, and there are solutions for every budget. The challenge is when and how to soundproof. It’s always easier to soundproof an office when starting from a blank slate rather than retrofitting an existing space. So if you’re moving into a new space you’ll want to make sure you’re working with your design firm to come up with a layout that prevents sound from traveling and materials that mitigate noise. It’s also possible to install certain types of soundproofing materials in an existing building.
Depending on the purpose of a building or room, primary acoustical requirements could include sound control between spaces, sound control within a space, or listening efficiency in meeting rooms and auditoriums. Just as technical challenges can vary widely from space to space, so, too, do the choices of materials and design details that can meet them. Thoroughly exploring these options requires time and effort.
So what types of modern acoustical soundproofing materials are available to help keep conversations within a room or area in a medical facility? Here are just some:
• Acoustic ceiling panels or ceiling tiles.
• Sound absorbing wall cover - simple do-it-yourself noise deadening solution
• Acoustical sound barriers that deflect or absorb sound.
• Acoustic insulation (like QuietFiber) placed in between wall joints behind drywall
• Viscoelastic sound absorbing polymer materials (like Acoustiblok) behind drywall
• Acoustic cloud systems – sound panels that are placed overhead in an area.
• Sound masking - the addition of natural or artificial sound (such as white noise or pink noise) into an environment to cover up unwanted sound by using auditory masking.
• Acoustical sound sealants
In the Spirit of the Law
Think about how many patient-related conversations which occur every day in hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, pharmacies, or other health care providing organizations over the course of a day, week, month and over a full year. The number of possible oral privacy violations could be high. Unless healthcare providers implement a reasonable solution that creates a safeguard for these conversations, healthcare providers are at the mercy of every patient who chooses to complain.
Unless the HIPAA law is amended, using soundproofing materials isn’t required in the letter of the law, but it falls well within the spirit of the law. While it's great that confidential information is safely locked away in their computer system, if you can hear patients and staff talking about their medical conditions and concerns in the next room, how confidential can patient information really be?
Although HIPAA creates a right to privacy, it doesn't create the right for private persons to sue if they feel their privacy has been compromised, creating little incentive for healthcare providers to soundproof their buildings. However, patients do file complaints, which could lead to fines and a requirement that the provider correct their procedures to prevent future privacy issues. For some health care providers, this is starting to become incentive enough for healthcare providers to consider soundproof their buildings and rooms.
READ MORE: Related Information
Using sound absorbing viscoelastic polymer material on the inside walls of generator enclosures and surrounding your noisy generator with an acoustical soundproofing barrier will significantly quiet noise to legally acceptable and comfortable levels. Most generators are noisy and operate above acceptable community noise levels without soundproofing. They can disturb neighbors and passers-by and can disrupt normal activities going on in nearby homes and inside your business if not controlled.
Most cities and communities now have noise/nuisance ordinances and are increasingly levying fines upwards of $500 per offense if your generator is louder than 65/55 (daytime/nightime) decibels when measured "at the property boundary." In many areas, second offenses can range from $500 - $1,000 "per day" as every day counts as a separate violation. If you have a noisy generator at your home or business, the risk of getting these unpredictable fines outweighs the cost and time of installing proper sound abatement systems.
Normal everyday conversation generally occurs at approximately 60 decibels on a sound meter which is significantly less than the sound decibel levels that many generators put out. This can make even every day conversation more difficult if you are around a noisy generator. High levels of noise are also known to negatively impact productivity, moods and anxiety levels.
Reciprocating engine-powered generators, used to make electricity on a temporary basis, produce a good deal of noise and vibration. During a temporary loss of electrical power, generators help keep essential home appliances running, keep businesses operational, and provide electricity in places like the outdoors and in recreational vehicles.
Whether these generators run continuously as part of a primary power source or occasionally in standby circumstances during emergencies or special needs situations, their noise levels usually need to be reduced to comply with local, state and federal noise or nuisance laws and ordinances in place to address noises described as "excessive, unreasonable, or repetitive in terms of volume so as to disturb the peace, quiet and comfort, and be offensive to the reasonable person of normal auditory sensitivity residing in or occupying a residential area."
Basic Types of Generators
Typical Residential and Non-Residential Sounds Levels in Many Communities
In many communities in North America, Europe and even other parts of the world, themaximum allowable sound levels, “measured at the nearest receiving property line,” within a similar range of the following:
Residential receiving properties (mixed-use zones are considered residential)
• 65 dBA during daytime hours for
• 55 dBA during nighttime hours
Nonresidential receiving property
• 67 dBA during daytime hours
• 62 dBA during nighttime hours
Click here to read specifics about a common noise ordinance:
Sources of generator set noise
An engine-generator is the combination of an electrical generator and an engine mounted together to form a single piece of equipment. This combination is also called an engine-generator set or a “gen-set.” In many contexts, the engine is taken for granted and the combined unit is simply called a generator.
Like any motor, a generator motor creates a lot of heat and needs a cooling system to prevent overheating. Standby generators can be either air-cooled or liquid-cooled. The major difference is that air-cooled systems are louder and not quite as effective. Liquid cooled systems are quieter and more dependable – and also more expensive to purchase and to maintain.
The decibel (often listed as dba) rating on a generator, is a number that is given that explains the noise level generated by the engine running. Some noisy generators can reach sound levels ranging from 80-100-plus decibels, which at 100 plus decibels translates to the noise of a jack hammer at 10 meters (32.8 feet); 110 decibels is the noise equivalent of a plane taking off at a 10 meters; 115 decibels translates to a jet’s screeching whistle at 10 meters, and is also the threshold of noise-induced pain. Sustained noise levels above this can cause hearing damage in short a short amount of time. Sustained noise at 100 dB can cause long term health problems. A higher quality and less noisy generator is going to be in the 70’s decibel rating while a really good generator will be in the 60’s decibels range.
According to a Cummings White Paper by Senior Acoustics Specialist Dennis Aaberg, generator set (residential and commercial generators) noise is produced by six major sources:
• Engine noise – This is mainly caused by mechanical and combustion forces and typically ranges from 100 dB(A) to 121 dB(A), measured at one meter, depending on the size of the engine.
• Cooling fan noise – This results from the sound of air being moved at high speed across the engine and through the radiator. Its level ranges from 100 dB(A) to 105 (A) dB at one meter.
• Alternator noise – This is caused by cooling air and brush friction and ranges from approximately 80 dB(A) to 90 dB(A) at one meter.
• Induction noise – This is caused by fluctuations in current in the alternator windings that give rise to mechanical noise that ranges from 80 dB(A) to 90 dB(A) at one meter.
• Engine exhaust – Without an exhaust silencer, this ranges from 120 dB(A) to 130 dB(A) or more and is usually reduced by a minimum of 15 dB(A) with a standard silencer.
• Structural/mechanical noise – This is caused by mechanical vibration of various structural parts and components that is radiated as sound.
Noise from “portable” generators comes primarily from two sources, the engine block and the exhaust system. With an air cooled engine there is little you can do about blocking noise. Some engines can have a larger muffler attached or make other changes to the exhaust system. Merely mounting exhaust pipe vertically will noticeably reduce noise.
Reducing Noise “Inside” the Generator Enclosure
With the growth of standby, prime and peaking power installations in densely populated areas, it’s become important to focus attention on understanding how generator noise is propagated and controlled.
Typically, there are two main methods for controlling the airborne noise in a power generator:
• Blocking airborne noise via a weighted barrier
• Absorbing airborne noise via acoustical absorbing insulation.
Aaberg’s white paper expands on this claim. It recommends that standby generator enclosures incorporate the following types of materials for best results and often with cost and performance improvements as compared to more traditional solutions:
• Flexible non-lead barriers (like Acoustiblok) in weights ranging from 1/4" lbs./ft2 to 2 lbs./ft2
• Faced acoustical foams in thicknesses ranging from 1/4" to 2" and with numerous facings, including reflective and reinforced facings
• Decoupled barrier composites and barrier/absorber composites in a range of barrier weights, decoupler thicknesses and absorption layer thicknesses faced with numerous films
• Damping composites comprising a damping layer to manage structureborne vibration
• Combined with acoustical foam layers to absorb airborne noise.
Significant noise control can be achieved by lining the generator’s sheet metal enclosure with a weighted barrier, or a decoupled weighted barrier (composite of barrier over decoupling foam) to help block noise. Ideally, at least 90 percent of the enclosure should be lined. For optimal effect the enclosure openings must be minimized.
Absorption reduces airborne noise due to mechanical sound energy by converting it into low grade heat energy. As air is pushed into the absorbing material by the sound pressure wave, viscous forces dissipate the mechanical sound energy as heat.
Most power generation equipment requires several openings in the metal enclosure – for air intake, exhaust and heat release. These openings are generally detrimental to the performance of barriers and decoupled barriers as they can allow noise to escape unhindered. By incorporating acoustical absorbers as a lining for louvers or by creating a path for airflow, noise can be absorbed before it escapes the enclosure.
In recent years, a wide range of elastomer innovations, like Acoustiblok, have been created that can be utilized in designing next generation gen-set enclosures. These materials must meet multiple design objectives including noise frequencies, operating temperature range and operating environment including thermal management, contaminant resistance and maintenance considerations.
Reducing Noise “Outside” the Generator
In a residential setting, the simplest type of noise control for generators or other gas or propane-powered engines is a noise barrier placed around it. Outdoor sound curtains or sound curtain noise barrier walls are an effective method of reducing noise generated by equipment, pumps, generators or other processes that are outside and are exposed to the elements.
It is important to take into account the source height of the generator, which can be fairly high, and to consider the height of the receiver if the impacted site has multiple floors.To be effective, a barrier wall must at least block the line-of-sight from the source to the receiver.
Sound barriers will make a substantial difference in the noise exposure levels from generators if the proper materials are used. They can reduce the sound by about 12-15 decibels, which is significant because a 10 decibel decrease in sound results in half the sound heard to the human ear. The more distance between the generator and your house or building, the better. Not all materials will work. It is important to do your research.
There are other soundproofing product solutions such as sound panels. Some soundproofing companies, like Acoustiblok, Inc. manufacture all-weather sound panels that are different from other conventional acoustical sound panels. In addition to being able to stand up to the most extreme environments, they not only absorb virtually all sound but they also contain a layer of noise absorbing viscoelastic material which provides exceptional noise blockage.
The sound absorbency of the panels brings down substantially the acoustical energy around the generator and by eliminating all sound reflections in the area, while the viscoelastic material in the panel allows it to also be an excellent sound barrier.
With increasing focus on noise in our communities, it's important to take a proactive approach to solving your generator noise issues by using lab tested and proven acoustical soundproofing materials.
READ MORE: Related Information
Acoustiblok quiets generators and noisy motors
United States Noise Pollution and Abatement Act (Noise Control Act)
Jet noise can be a serious serious long-term health concern if you are exposed to continuous high levels of it. If you live close to an airport or live directly under the path of high decibel sound jets, it's important to take steps to reduce the noise entering your home, office, or church.
Airports work closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airlines and the local communities to monitor existing noise programs and develop new ways of reducing airport and aircraft noise. They generally focus on two areas: sound insulation programs and noise abatement programs. A homeowner must qualify for these programs in order to receive soundproofing support.
Many large airports have sound insulation programs are designed to reduce airport noise that people hear in their homes and in the classroom.
Soundproofing materials are available to help people living near airports who are exposed to certain levels of jet enginer noise. Lining your walls, ceilings and floors with sound absorbing material such as Acoustiblok, can lessen the jet engine noise entering your structure.
Germany's Federal Environment Agency Study Shows Airport Noise Increases Risk of Strokes
The following contains excerpts from an article written by Tristana Moore on Dec. 15, 2009 that was posted on a Time website pertaining to a Climate Change Conference.
According to the unpublished study, commissioned by Germany's Federal Environment Agency, living under a flight path can seriously damage your health. German researchers have discovered that people who are exposed to jet noise have a substantially increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease. The findings are bound to provide further ammunition to anti-airport campaigners and make uncomfortable reading for world leaders at this week's climate summit in Copenhagen.
The study shows that men who are exposed to jet noise have a 69% higher risk of being hospitalized for cardiovascular disease. Women living under flight paths fare even worse, logging a 93% higher rate of hospitalization with cardiovascular problems, compared with their counterparts in quiet residential areas. The study found that women who are exposed to jet noise (of about 60 decibels) during the day are 172% more likely to suffer a stroke.
The report is based on the analysis of data from public health insurers that were drawn from more than 1 million Germans ages 40 and over who live near Cologne-Bonn Airport in western Germany. "These figures are worrying. It's quite clear that living near an airport is very dangerous for your health," says Eberhard Greiser, an emeritus professor of epidemiology at Bremen University. "Jet noise is more dangerous than any other kind of road-traffic noise or rail noise because it is especially acute and sharp and it induces stress hormones."
People living close to Cologne-Bonn Airport also tended to suffer from psychological illnesses. "There was a higher incidence of depression among women who live near the airport," says Jens Ortscheid of the Federal Environment Agency. "This report should come as a warning signal to all governments and authorities that are planning to expand airports — there are serious health effects which need to be considered." Ortscheid says the report is in line with previous studies on the health effects of jet noise.
In a separate study commissioned by the local Bonn authorities, Greiser discovered that women near Cologne-Bonn Airport had an increased risk of developing breast cancer and leukemia. His research found that women who are exposed to 60 decibels of jet noise at night are twice as likely to contract breast cancer. "It seems women are more sensitive to jet noise than men, but I would advise everyone to think twice about living near an airport because it's not just aircraft noise which can be deadly; aircraft emissions are also dangerous," says Greiser.
Greiser is convinced his report provides unequivocal evidence of the health risks associated with jet noise. "When it comes to expanding airports, governments and the courts all over the world will have to weigh the benefits of commercial interests against the danger to public health," he says. "How many additional diseases is society prepared to accept?"
Another Study of German Children Living Near Airports Shows Jet Aircraft Noise Impairs Long-Term Memory And Reading Ability
In a story on ScienceDaily.com, excessive noise, such as jet aircraft flying overhead, impairs children's reading ability and long-term memory, a Cornell University environmental psychologist and his European colleagues conclude in a study of schoolchildren living near airports. "This is the first long-term study of the same children before and after airports near them opened and closed. It nails down that it is almost certain that noise is causing the differences in children's ability to learn to read," says Gary Evans, an international expert on environmental stress, such as noise, crowding and air pollution. The good news, says Evans, is that some of the reading and memory problems caused by jet noise is reversible in a quieter environment.
The study was supported, in part, by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Nordic Scientific Group for Noise Effects, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the German Research Foundation and the National Swedish Institute for Building Research. Other authors are Staffan Hygge of the Royal Institute of Technology, Gävle, Sweden, and Monika Bullinger of the University of Hamburg, Germany.
The researchers analyzed data on 326 children (average age, 10) living near two sites in Munich: near the old airport, which was scheduled to close, and near the new airport site. The children were assessed three times: six months before the old airport closed and the new one opened, and one year and two years after the airport opening.
"Noise exposure is consistently linked to reading deficits and may interfere with speech perception and long-term memory in primary school children," says Evans. "But it wasn't until we had this unprecedented opportunity to study children near the simultaneous opening and closing of the new and former Munich airports that we could actually find stronger evidence for a causal relation."
Evans, who has been studying the effects of noise for several years, says the latest study is further evidence that exposure to chronic noise can have serious health, learning and motivational effects in children and adults.
The full article can be read at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021008065059.htm
Adding soundproofing materials to walls, ceilings and/or flooring of your home theater or entertainment room will give your family and neighbors a better quality of life void of stress and anxiety caused by loud noise from movies, video games and television shows. Sound from home theater audio system speakers can exceed 100 decibels and higher. Without adequate soundproofing materials to absorb and mitigate it, the noise will travel through your wall, ceiling and floor joints and into the rest of the home.
Commercial cinemas give you a great acoustical experience that makes you feel like you are part of the movie. Commercial cinema-like sound is a key ingredient to any home theater or home entertainment room. It helps create a more memorable and pleasurable entertainment experience while watching high-speed car chases, fiery high-decibel explosions, and sweat-soaked vixens with machine guns.
Soundproofing In Your Home Provides a Higher Quality of Life
Sound travels in low-frequency waves. These waves radiate from the source of the sound in all directions. If the waves are met with resistance, they will redirect and dissipate. Because sound travels through walls, ceilings, floors and other surfaces as well as air, you will hear sound in virtually any environment.
Soundproofing is a difficult process. The only way to stop sound is to either reduce it or absorb it. Noise reduction works by blocking the passage of sound waves through either the use of distance or the placing or intervening objects in the sound path. On the other hand, noise absorption operates by transforming the sound wave itself. The wave changes when it comes into contact with certain materials.
For your home theater, you need to be aware of the amount of sound leaking from the room. Even though your home theater is smaller than a commercial movie theater, it should provide a good acoustical experience. Outside noises coming into the theater room need to be minimized and noise generated by your sound system needs to be kept inside your home theater walls so it does not disturb others inside and outside your walls.
If you are considering building a new home theater or home entertainment room, you may want to make sure soundproofing materials, like Acoustiblok, are in your construction tool box. Here’s why.
• Not only add essential mass to walls, ceilings or floors, but they also enhance the flexibility and stiffness while changing the natural resonance of the structure
• Drastically reduce sound transmission through your walls, ceilings and floors
• Keep high decibel noise in the theater room
• Allow people in your home to enjoy the home theater room or entertainment room any time of the day or night without disturbing others.
Various other building materials are available to help keep noise from escaping your home theater room and provide better quality acoustics such as sound panels, sound drapes, acoustic insulation, foam, carpeting or acoustic sound-deadening drywall.
Theater Room Acoustics and Intelligibility
Go to any movie theater and you will notice acoustic treatment covering a large percentage of the walls. Chairs are soft and well padded. The whole room has been carefully crafted to work as a single system.
In commercial movie theaters, acoustics plays a critical role in making sure that everyone can clearly hear the movie dialogue, no matter where they are seated. By eliminating near-wall reflections, those seated at the perimeter of the theater are not fighting to detect the sound from the speakers versus the sound reflecting off the walls. The padded seats are carefully designed to not only be comfortable, but also help control bass when not in use.
When a theater is properly treated acoustically, it improves our ability to comprehend what is being said and what noises are being heard. This is known as ‘intelligibility.’ The speech intelligibility in a room depends on the reverberation time and the background noise. If a room has a long reverberation time, spoken words will not die out before the next words reach the listener. This results in poor speech intelligibility. It will be difficult for the listener to understand what is said. However, if the sound is absorbed by acoustical soundproofing materials, it results in a short reverberation time. This provides a good acoustic environment and a high level of speech intelligibility.
Standard drywall construction has what acousticians call a sound transmission class (STC) rating of 40 decibels; the higher the number, the better the material is at blocking sound. When you crank up your audio system to experience Johnny playing Guitar Hero at concert volumes, it’s easy to hit a very loud peak sound-pressure level of 110 decibels. A sound transmission class (STC) of 40 means a person on the other side of the wall will definitely hear Johnny jamming, and if you were to measure the volume with a sound meter, it would register about 70 decibels, which is loud enough to be bothersome.
Psychological Impacts of Noise on Our Family and Neighbors
One of the biggest culprits of home noise originates from home theaters that have poor acoustical features. According to Psychology Today website, noise is a stimulus, and when we have little control over the source, we often experience more stress and anxiety. Your anxiety may have several causes. First, you may have a “control” reaction, in which you are keenly aware of not being able to stop or alter a sound. Second, you may experience sound more sensitively than the average person. For those who notice sounds and get absorbed by it, the intrusion can become an interruption and a distraction from a productive task, including relaxation and sleep.
If you are a highly sensitive person in general, noise can be a powerful trigger to getting upset. Controlling our environment is a task humans are very good at, but in a modern world where noises are a part of the landscape, our control is limited. You can help control noise from your home theater or home entertainment room by using proper soundproofing materials.
Church noise, like many other types of outdoor noise pollution, is increasingly becoming a public nuisance for people living close to churches and other religious places of worship. Cities and villages in urban areas especially are seeing a rise in church noise and nuisance law complaints that they say are in violation of the noise ordinances often referred to as nuisance laws.
These days, churches and places of worship are trying to do bigger and better things to attract and keep members. Many have scaled up the music experience for churchgoers by forming full fledged church bands and orchestras that practice regularly at the church. They
use loud musical instruments such as drums, organs, pianos, electronic keyboards, guitars, electric guitars, drums, or other accompaniments that are heightened with electric amplifiers and loud speakers.
Churches and places of worship are also getting larger and larger and some are packed with thousands of people during weekend services. After four years of holding services in its 2,100-seat interim worship center, Dallas, Texas' Watermark Community Church moved its congregation into a beautiful new 3,500-seat main sanctuary (shown above).
When Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo, a.k.a the Bloody Beetroots, produced the song “Welcome to the Church of Noise” in 2011, he may not have meant for his lyrics to be taken so literally as many people living nearby churches are today. “She goes places I won't go. She knows things that I don't know. Welcome to the church of noise. Welcome to the church of noise,” the song says.
Church Noise Issues are Increasingly in the News
In Columbia, South Carolina, according to a Channel 7 WSPA.com article dated December 11, 2012 titled,” Midlands Church Fined After Noise Complaint,” Midlands Church had to pay hundreds of dollars in fines after being accused of being too loud. Neighbors of Columbia’s Rehoboth United Assemblies, Inc. say they can hear the music during the church’s services. They took the issue to court when the issue wasn’t resolved. A judge found the church in violation of the city’s noise ordinance, which comes with a $740 fine.
One neighbor said they wouldn’t be able to have a party and play loud music during the church’s service, so they don’t think the church should be able to be “loud and obnoxious” while the community is trying to sleep or have quiet time in their homes.
The article went on to say that church leaders are upset. “I feel as if I was disrespected,” explains Apostle Johnnie Clark. I also feel frustrated because what they’re calling loud noise is our form of worship.”
In Morton, Illinois, according to an article by Steve Stein of the Morton Journal Star on November 5, 2012, neighbors said police have been called 55 times in 16 months because of noise complaints. No tickets have been issued. They criticized church officials for their lack of cooperation and respect for neighbors. They said adults and children have been awakened in the morning by noise coming from the church and complained the music disturbed outdoor family gatherings. In Morton, noises that are "unreasonably loud, disturbing and unnecessary" are banned in the revised ordinance. And the noises must unreasonably disturb, injure, or endanger the "comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of reasonable persons of ordinary sensitivity."
There’s Even Noise Lawsuites
In Durham, North Carolina, in an article dated January 13, 2013 on ABC13.com, nine families living in The Hills at Southpoint subdivision filed a lawsuit against the NewHope Church who refused to run down the music after they talked to the church about it. The neighbors said the church performances and practice sessions at the church are “akin to rock concerts.”
Police cited the church under Durham’s noise ordinance for sound considered “unreasonable and disturbing.” The church claims it’s tried to work with its neighbors by soundproofing walls, lowering sound levels and changing worship times. These changes were apparently not enough for neighbors who live near the church. They claim the church leaders have been hostile to their complaints and continue to pump out music levels that invade their homes – affecting their ability to sleep and enjoy their neighborhood. They are seeking a restraining order against the church and punitive damages.
While performing a Google search on the words “church noise complaints,” it resulted in 8,330,000 related results. Case after case could be cited in this blog article about the spreading tide of church noise, but we think you get the picture of what is going on in many cities and neighborhoods.
Some people have taken to the world wide web to make complaints against particular churches.
Here's a church noise related post from an irritated neighbor on a website called, Ask Meta Filter.com:
"We live right across the street from a very loud church in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. At first we thought it was kind of nice being near a place of worship, but now we're kind of fed up. There are very loud services with singing and all sorts of instruments that are probably amplified, as well as random drumming practices. It goes on for hours (they've been playing for at least 4 hours just today), and it's on weekdays and weekends. The services seem to be kind of irregular; it's not like we know it's going to be bad 6-8pm every Wednesday. I work from home, and it's nice to work in cafes, but I hate the feeling like I can't enjoy my own home. Plus, not being able to relax in our living room on Sunday evenings can be kind of a bummer.
What is the best way to approach this? We called in a noise complaint once - it was 10pm on a Sunday and they had been going at it for 3 hours (plus they had a van idling outside for 40 minutes). But, the cops weren't that helpful - they said they weren't going to disrupt the church service (but that's when it's noisy!) and they were trying to stay on good terms with the churches. It's also a gentrifying neighborhood, which may make things more complicated..."
Church Noise Decibel Levels
Typically, it is up to the church to decide what decibel level to play their music. Reach Communications Systems Engineer Marc C. Brown wrote a technical white paper report titled, “Measuring Acoustic Decibel Levels in Worship Services with Economical EPL Meters.” He recommends louder and more energetic worship service range from 95-100 decibels, a more sustained energetic worship service range from 90-95 decibels and formal music levels for a few minutes of about 80-90 decibels. In comparison, decibel levels at a rock concert can range from 120-140 decibels and sometimes higher. So church music noise can be substantial.
The term decibel is used for a wide variety of measurements in science and engineering, most prominently in acoustics and electronics. The decibel (sometimes shown as dB) is a logarithmic unit. You cannot add and subtract decibels like ordinary numbers. An increase of 3 decibels is a doubling of the "strength" of the sound. An increase of 10 decibels means the sound is 10 times as loud. For example, 70 decibels is 10 times as loud as 60 decibels. Sounds above 90 decibels of loudness or strength of sound vibration, may cause vibrations intense enough to damage the inner ear, especially if the sound continues for a long time.
The following are some typical decibel level comparisons of musical instruments sometimes used in modern day church music:
The Right Soundproofing Measures Will Work
More complex architectural designs commonly found in churches and places of worship normally require a systematic approach to soundproofing and acoustics. There are many acoustical soundproofing products available in the market today that can reduce church noise in the design stage and in existing buildings. In any sound reduction application, the entire interior surface area should be treated to be completely effective.
The voice of the church leader, the devotional music and instruments, and the collective fellowship and noise of hundreds of people contained within a place of worship all produce sound waves. Sound waves are like any form of energy. They will follow the course of least resistance to escape when they can. Noise and sound will infringe into the lives of your neighbors if it is not blocked, absorbed or deflected. Noise containment in churches and other places of worship requires attention to floors, walls and ceilings.
Ideally, soundproofing products should be specified into the design of a new church (see photograph above), however you can also add soundproofing materials to an existing church structure.
The benefits include:
· Reduction in overall levels of church noise
· Reduction in level of high decibel music noise that often escapes outside the church walls
· Improvement in the quality of sound for listeners in the church
· Reduction in background noise levels inside the church. The congregation can hear the messages clearer.
· A decrease in echoes provides higher quality sound when talking or having conversations
· Reduction in noise complaints by nearby neighbors.
Complaints, unhappy neighbors, law suites and legal fees, citations for nuisance issues, and a lack of peace of mind...these are not things that are typically associated with churches. Perhaps you may hear some new terminology thrown into your church leader's standard vernacular: “Stand up and sing your praises mildly between 60-70 decibels. Or perhaps, dear God, give us strength and possibly even a sound level meter to help in our efforts of keeping the peace with thy neighbors and avoid violating and receiving citations for local nuisance ordinance 32.786.654.”
Picklers can now be found in most states across America. Picklers have even made their way across the border to Canada, Singapore, and India. Pickler fever, like Bieber fever, has gone viral and mainstream. So don’t be offended if someone asks you to “get your pickle on” sometime because if you haven’t heard about the sport of pickleball by now, you probably will soon. The sport has officially arrived in the United States and may be coming to a neighborhood near you.
Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sporting craves in America and has even begun to spread overseas. While pickleball is an inter-generational sport for players ranging in age from 6 to 70-plus, it’s the 55-plus year-old demographic that is driving the recent fast-rising popularity of the sport.
Some describe pickleball as a dwarf version of tennis. Others describe it as an over-grown version of ping pong (table tennis). It's played like tennis and scored like badminton. Regardless of what you think it is, the pickleball phenomenon has taken hold.
For decades, the game was little known outside the Pacific Northwest United States. Since its inception in 1965 as a backyard pastime, Pickleball has seen significant growth in the United States over the past decade. It is now an organized sport represented by national and international governing bodies. According to the USA Pickleball Association, the sport boasts an estimated 100,000 adult players in the United States now, more than triple the number in 2003, and there are about 2,500 public courts, versus just 150 that year.
Pickleball has seen an explosion of sort in Florida, especially in Central Florida, which is considered by many to be the pickleball capital of the world now. The Villages, a popular retirement community located near Orlando Florida, hosts more than 108 courts alone.
More and more pickleball courts are being built in new 55-plus communities and are being added to existing communities all over the United States and in other countries too. Del Webb, the United States’ largest builder of active-adult communities, had pickleball courts in fewer than one in five of its developments in 2006. Now, says Jacque Petroulakis, spokeswoman for parent company PulteGroup Inc., the figure is above 50 percent, and Del Webb incorporates pickleball into almost everything it builds. "It's the hottest craze sweeping our communities," she says.
Pickleball has spread across the United States and into Canada. It is now beginning to spread around the world. The United States Pickleball Association estimates there are more than 100,000 active picklers. In Canada, where the game is still relatively new, there are already more than 5,000 players in just four provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, and Ontario. Meanwhile new organizations like the Singapore Pickleball Association and the All India Pickleball Association are bringing the game to Asia and beyond.
For pickleball players, the sport is a way to exercise, burn calories, be social, and get outdoors. The sport is easy to learn, even for those without much athletic experience. For all of these reasons, players find pickleball addictive, with demand for court time often exceeding available space. And in case you were wondering exactly what the term “pickler” means. According to the World Pickleball Federation (yes there is one), a pickler is a certified pickleball player who may or may not become addicted in the next 10 minutes or less. The sport with a whimsical name also has some whimsical terms and definitions. While many picklers play the game for fun, many play it competitively in regional, national and international singles and doubles tournaments.
According to the website of the USA Pickleball Association, which officially took over the sport in 2005, pickleball is played on a badminton-size court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. It is played with a perforated plastic baseball (similar to a Wiffle Ball) and solid wooden, composite, graphite or aluminum paddles that resemble large table tennis paddles. The game was invented by a man in Washington state in 1965, and is named after his dog Pickles who used to chase balls all over a court.
The Pickleball "Racket" - Ping, Pop, Thwack
As picklers get excited about their smashes, rallies, put aways, serves, and volleys on the court, some residents off the court living within earshot are crying foul. Even as momentum for the sport builds, the game has left a trail of detractors and spawned studies to determine if the sport meets noise regulations. When the pickleball paddle hits the hard plastic ball it makes a unique “pop” or "ping" sound that is louder and sharper to the ear and registers 3-5 decibels higher on a sound meter than the “thwack” heard when a tennis racquet hits the softer tennis ball. Regulation games are played to 11 points (a team must win by two points). Some local games are played to 15 points so the ball may strike the paddles hundreds of times in a game.This constant hard sharp sound can be bothersome to some residents living near the courts if the sound is not blocked by natural barriers of some type or by acoustical material hung on the fence that surrounds the court.
You can hear the sound for yourself by watching the YouTube video of a tournament match.
While the sport of pickleball is growing with new fans every day, it’s also faulting with some neighbors and communities who don’t want pickleball courts in their area because of the unwanted sounds and continuous racket/noise. In some communities, the divisions have prompted heated meetings among property owners, calls for noise studies and even claims that pickleball is destroying property values.
Increasing Number of Courts Could Lead to More Noise Issues
According to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), the number of places to play pickleball nationwide has grown in the past 12 years from just 37 to nearly 1400. In Mission Royale, a 55-plus community in Casa Grande, Ariz., the local pickleball club is trying to secure courts of its own. Partly in response to noise complaints, the community's developer, Meritage Homes Corp., recently said it would be willing to spend "significant dollars" to relocate pickleball from a converted tennis court, says Jeff Grobstein, desert region president for Meritage.
Ron Heymann, 65, whose home is about 100 feet from the existing courts, says he won't be sorry to see pickleball go. The noise from games—that of a "hard plastic ball thunk-thunking repetitively on a hard wooden paddle"—is "akin to a toothache that won't go away."
Pickleball players in Mission Royale dispute such claims—for the most part. "There is a constant 'ping, ping,'" concedes John Grasso, 61, president of the local pickleball club. In March, Mr. Grasso says the club purchased a decibel meter from RadioShack. The findings: Tennis reached about 58 decibels while pickleball hit about 60. "There really was no difference. It's just a different sound."
The difference was enough to evict the sport from its home in SaddleBrooke near Tampa, FL. In 2008, residents there first asked pickleball players to switch to a rubber ball to cut back on noise. Pickleball players passed. Many feel like the sound is an integral part of the game and the experience.
"Ask golfers to use a different kind of ball, and see what they say," says John Benter, 69, local pickleball president.
A $4,500 noise study found that sounds from pickleball play were spiking above the county's 60-decibel limit, which applies to ongoing noise. As a result, the homeowners' association banned use of standard pickleball paddles and balls on the courts, effectively shutting down play.
Pickleball has also sparked lawsuits throughout the United States from people concerned and irritated about game noise that has intruded into their homes and personal outdoor spaces.
A November 15, 2012 Rockford Register Star article states that a lawsuit filed to stop pickleball from being played in Sinnissippi Park could be settled with additional noise control efforts from the Rockford Park District. In Winnebago County, Illinois, two people filed a complaint to the Winnebago County court asking for an injunction to stop play at the six courts at the Sinnissippi Pickleball Center. The complaint said the “pop” the ball makes as it flies off the paddle sounds “like a hammer blow on a blacksmith’s anvil” and “the noise filters into every part of their property and household.”
An article found on AzCentral.com website said Otis and Jean Vaughn thought the active lifestyle and peaceful setting of Venture Out RV Resort were the perfect ticket for retirement when they bought a home in the east Mesa community. For much of the past two decades, they played tennis, exercised at the community pool and traveled. But the Vaughns said that tranquility ended when the "pinging and popping" sounds of pickleball erupted on badminton-size courts that were built last year about 30 feet from their driveway.
"It's absolutely deafening," he said of the hard-surface paddles striking perforated plastic balls. The Vaughns' protest is among a chorus of objections to noise generated by the game in at least four Arizona retirement communities and several other states.
Noise Mitigation Solutions
Some of the noise problems for pickleball are not just because of the racquets and ball used. There are other issues. Some pickleball courts were built too close to homes. Also, most courts have chain link fencing around them which doesn’t block any noise. Some courts have tried using screen meshing on the chain link fence but it is porous and does not block noise well. Other developments have used trees and landscaping as a way to block noise during matches. These natural barriers are seldom effective.
There are other more modern acoustical solutions to the pickleball noise that can be used and are currently being used by pickleball associations and builders. Acoustifence is a modern day acoustical soundproofing product that just happens to be developed and sold by the owner of this blog - Tampa, Fla.-based Acoustiblok, Inc.
Acoustifence is an advanced material sound barrier that is placed between a noise source and the noise receiver. The Acoustifence material easily attaches to chain link fences and comes in large sheets and in custom made sizes, making it ideal. In a sound meter test conducted by USA Pickleball Association president Bill Booth on April 17, 2012 at the Country Roads RV Village pickleball courts in Yuma, Arizona, Acoustifence soundproofing material placed around a pickleball court reduced noise by 10-12 decibels This represents a 50 percent reduction in sound as perceived by the human ear the report concludes.
Let’s Google That Pickle Word
Today, if you Google the word pickleball, it receives about 212,000 results. Google the word ping pong and you get 90 million results. Google Google badminton and you get 27.5 million with volleyball yielding 171 million results. America’s current most popular sport, NFL football yielded 335 million results. So pickleball, while gaining popularity, is still finding its way into the cyberworld compared to other popular recreational activities. Google the word "pickleball noise" and you'll get 22,000 results, probably much more than the sports governing bodies feels good about.
Despite a few small bumps in the road, pickleball is finding its way into the hearts of many.
United States of America Pickleball Association
International Federation of Pickleball
Overview of Pickleball Rules
• Pickleball is a fun game played on a badminton court with the net lowered at 34 inches on center. It is played with a perforated plastic baseball, similar to a whiffle ball, and wood or composite paddles. It is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced competitive game for experienced players.
• There are usually four players - two each side on a team - playing over a net slightly lower than in tennis. Singles can play a match also.
• In tournaments, a match will usually consist of the best 2 out of 3 games to 11.
• Players swing rackets that look like a beefed-up version of a beach paddleball paddle and hit a whiffle ball that's slightly harder than the play-in-the-streets variety.
• The serve is underhanded and goes diagonally like in tennis, but the ball must bounce once on each side before players are allowed to hit a volley (out of the air). A player serves until he/she side outs then a person on the other team serves.
• Inside ''The Kitchen,'' a 7-foot zone on both sides of the net, volleying is not allowed; players have to let the ball bounce once if they're in that area.
• Teams only score when they're serving, and each player gets a turn before the other side gets a shot.
• There are a few more rules, but the main thing is that pickleball is a blast.
Soundproofing Products for Pickleball Courts