Acoustiblok Soundproofing Blog Articles

Fracking: A Controversial and Noisy Energy Process: Part 2 of 2

Posted by Larry Lasseter on Dec 23, 2013 4:25:00 PM

Fracking Blog Part 2 Series Header

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: 

    fracking pad site excavation 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.

Fracking Compressor station 11    • 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. 

Tags: hydrofracking noise, fracking noise, fracking compressor noise, All Weather Sound Panels, industrial noise, Acoustiblok

Try Shutting Your Earlids When You Encounter Secondhand Noise

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Dec 11, 2013 4:48:00 PM

soundproofing, noise pollution, secondhand noise, Acoustiblok

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.

cartoons sounds around usMankind 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 cartoon noisy neighbors with blowersmodern 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.

Tags: environmental noise, secondhand noise, nuisance noise, Noise pollution, Acoustiblok

'Treble' in Paradise: Piano Teacher’s Permit Revoked After Neighbor Complains About Noise

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Nov 29, 2013 7:34:00 PM

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.

a1a1a1a1 Blog picBut 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.”

Piano Noise Blog Calif Text Box bylineAbout 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.

Tags: neighborhood sounds, sounproofing, music noise, piano noise, neighborhood noise, home noise, Acoustiblok, residential noise

Silence the Ultimate Frontier. Or is it? - Part 1

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Nov 1, 2013 4:39:00 PM

Acoustiblok blog

Outer Space the Ultimate Quiet

In the motion picture Gravity (2013), NASA astronaut Matt Kowalski and Dr. Ryan Stone are performing an outer space walk while performing repairs on the Hubble Telescope. Kowalski asks Dr. Stone, “What do you like best about this place?” Dr. Stone responds, “Silence.”

Outer space is the ultimate silent place. If you shouted in outer space, even the person right next to you would not be able to hear what you said. Why is this? Sound propagates (spreads) as pressure waves through a medium, such as air (gas), water (liquid) or solids such as metals, wood or glass. What we call "sound" is actually vibrations in the air. 

Acoustiblok BlogBecause space is almost vacuum (space that is empty of matter), there is no air and thus there is also no sound. So don’t bother trying to tell your astro-buddy that his space fly is down unless you’re communicating through a space suite communication device: He isn’t going to hear you. In the movie, Dr. Stone talks about how peaceful it is in space and she feels at peace with herself when she realizes that she might die in space after a debris field rendered their space shuttle useless for flight. 

Why does Dr. Ryan feel so peaceful in space by the lack of noise? It seems obvious to us, but I’m not sure most of us can truly appreciate what going from a world full of noise from cars, trucks, airplanes trains, construction equipment, generators, chillers constant human talking to a place void of sound.  

The decibel (abbreviated dB) is the unit used to measure the intensity of a sound. There is no such thing as zero when it comes to sound.  While zero decibels is technically demarcated as the threshold for the human ability to hear sound, some people can decipher sounds in the negative decibel range. Normal speaking voices are around 65 dB. A rock concert can be about 120 dB.

Owoman sleeping in bedn earth, there are few places where you can achieve a truly sound and noise-free environment. The typical quiet room — such as your bedroom late at night — has an ambient noise level of about 30 decibels, caused by the rustling of sheets, the hum of the air conditioner or heater, and similar sources of white noise. Imagine being in an environment where you can hear the fluids moving in your own body. 

describe the imageWhat if you want to measure how loud a consumer product is, for example a cell phone’s ring or the hum of an Xbox game system or computer, or a dishwasher. You are better off doing so in an environment with little to no ambient noise. Much of this type of testing is done in rooms called an anechoic chambers(left). 

Read more about anechoic chambers in Part 2 of this blog post coming very soon. 



Tags: noise-free environments, anechoic chambers, soundproofing materials, quiet, sound, Acoustiblok

Office Noise Negatively Impacts Concentration and the Bottom Line: Part 3

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Oct 16, 2013 5:30:00 PM

Blog Collage Insects Office Noise

Interfering Physical Noises

People differentiate unconsciously between good and bad sounds. People call many different kinds of sounds "noise." What is called a noise is highly subjective, depending on its loudness and sound characteristics, the same sound can be called a "pleasant noise" by some people while exactly the same sound can be called an "unpleasant noise" by other people.

Interfering noises (or interfering sounds) are sounds with a negative sound quality, that is, the sound event leads to a hearing event, which is perceived as unpleasant, disturbing and interfering. This sound event usually releases negative associations. A noise can be characterized as interfering, if it fulfills at least one of the following conditions:

   • A sound is unpleasant and interferes with what they are doing.  

   • The sound quality is worse than expected. The extent to which the person feels disturbed (little or high) is not relevant.

   • A sound occurs without the user expecting the sound event. 

copy machine by Cubile workerWhile most office workers have become accustomed to telephones ringing at 65 plus decibels and copy machines running at 70-plus decibels, an interfering noise doesn't necessarily have to be loud. A mosquito can produce considerable disturbing sound, although it is comparatively quiet with a volume of only approximately 30 decibels. A large housefly from 9 feet (3.0 m) makes a noise of 40 decibels. These may be perceived as unpleasant sounds to many when heard or experienced.  By contrast, an orchestra might produce very pleasant sounds, even if its volume amounts to nearly 90 decibels of sound. 

Tags: office cubicle noise, office soundproofing, Office noise, noisy offices, unpleasant noise, interfering noise, soundproofing, Acoustiblok, noise

Noise is a Severe Problem in India

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Jul 19, 2013 4:14:00 PM

india noise pollutionloud speakers

Over the past decade, India has tried to get quieter, but is it working? Noise pollution is still a severe problem in India and may have harmful consequences on human health over time. Noise regulations were introduced in India about a decade ago, setting noise limits in industrial, commercial and residential areas, with stiff fines for offenders. Despite this, there is still little awareness or care about the dangers of noise pollution by many who live there. Because of a lack of manpower to enforce the laws or vested interests of politicians or the so called powerful lobby, noise legislation is not enforced effectively some experts claim. 

India is the seventh largest country by area and the second most populous country with more than 1.2 billion people. Since 1991, continuing economic liberation has moved the country towards a market-based economy. By 2008, India had established itself as one of the world's fastest growing economies

Some of the general noise problems in India include:  

    -  Industrial and construction activities

    -  Traffic noise

    -  Automotive traffic and honking of horns

    -  Fire crackers

    -  Generator sets

    -  Loud speakers 

    -  Music systems.

Air and road traffic in India and many developing countries have increased at amazingly rapid rates. While they may be symbols of growth and prosperity their engines have raised the noise levels in and above many cities. Aviation noise are among the biggest contributors to noise pollution.  Then there is the cumulative impact of powerful music systems (personal and conventional) and noise within the home (loud music and television for instance) that are increasingly becoming the source of many noise related ailments.

For some countries, including India, celebrations and festivities mean escalation of noise. Fire crackers and loudspeakers add to traffic noises which reverberate through crowded housing colonies, causing one of the world’s least recognised public health hazards – noise pollution. Infants, elderly and those who are ill are most vulnerable to noise pollution.

India’s Noise Control Regulatory Measures

India’s Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981 considers noise pollution an air pollutant. In 2000, the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules set ambient air quality standards in respect of noise (in decibels, dB) for industrial, commercial and residential areas and silence zones. They also direct state governments to undertake measures for “abatement of noise” resulting from vehicular movements and horns, fire crackers and loud speakers or public address systems, and to ensure that noise levels do not exceed the permissible limits.

The Supreme Court of India gave a significant verdict on noise pollution in 2005. Unnecessary honking of vehicles makes for a high decibel level of noise in cities. The use of loudspeakers for political purposes and for sermons by temples and mosques makes noise pollution in residential areas worse.

 Watch this Video News Broadcast About India's Noise Laws

In January 2010, Government of India published norms of permissible noise levels in urban and rural areas:

            India Air Quality Standards

             Source: Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India

Civil organizations have combated noise pollution by taking up the matter to local development authorities or by taking legal recourse. Indian judiciary has sought to provide respite to tormented petitioners through a number of judgments. For example, the Supreme Court has banned the use of loudspeakers and “bursting sound-emitting” fire crackers between 10 pm and 6 am. Nevertheless, the issue of noise pollution is unrelentingly grave. This is primarily because of poor law enforcement, owing to the absence of accountability for police and civic administration almost across the country, and the lack of civic sense among people.

The Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests launched the Real Time Ambient Noise Monitoring Network in 2011 to address the lack of real-time data. Under its first phase, automatic monitoring stations were set up in seven cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Lucknow. The data received from these stations showed that the noise levels were far above permissible limits. For example, commercial areas reported 93 dB in breach of the 65 dB limit, whereas the entire city of Chennai reported noise levels at over 100 dB, prompting an article in the Times of India (April 27, 2011) to equate living in Chennai with “living in a factory!”

India’s Loudest Cities

Indian cities are known to be pretty noisy. According to one estimate, Mumbai is one of the noisiest cities on earth battered day and night by cars, taxis, auto rickshaws horn, factory noise, construction work, etc. Outside noise levels there are at a constant 80-85 decibels which is considered twice the safe levels determined by the World Health Organization (W.H.O). Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million. Along with the neighboring urban areas, including the cities of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world. Mumbai was the site of terrorist attacks in 2008. In Mumbai and Calcutta, local court orders on the use of loudspeakers, firecrackers and horns have been implemented fairly successfully. 

Get a feel for traffic noise in Mumbai by watching this video someone made of them walking up Station Road, Santa Cruz in Mumbai

In Delhi, as reported by India Today (November 4, 2012), the noise level is 16 times higher than the prescribed limit, mostly because of the “unregulated and overloaded” trucks, sparing not even the patients in AIIMS and Safdarjang Hospital. In the Capital and other parts of the country, operation of factories in residential areas is another source of day-to-day distress, especially affecting the students and ailing residents.

Harmful Effects of Excessive Noise Exposure

Auditory damage from excessive noise was known hundred years of ago but only few people were exposed to excessive noise. The position changed rapidly with the advent of power-driven machinery. Today, noise has become omnipresent. The W.H.O. estimates that 120 million people world wide have hearing difficulties. The W.H.O. underlines that loud noise can create high blood pressure problems and mental health issues. Health experts argue noise pollution in India is a major cause of heart attacks and other stress related illnesses.

The following are some general health problems produced by constant loud noise:

    -  High blood pressure: Studies have found that people who live near a noisy airport, work in a noisy environment, or hear over 55 decibels of city traffic noise at night are at higher risk of high blood pressure.

    - Trouble sleeping: Noise can make it tough to sleep.

    -  Emotional effects: The stress caused by noise can make mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, distress, and irritability.

    -  Decrease in the ability to concentrate.

    -  Hearing loss

    - Poor school performance: Children in school do not perform as well in a noisy environment.

    - Mental fatigue

    - Headaches: Noise can trigger headaches in some people.

    - Discomfort to patients in hospitals.

    - May reduce efficiency and output of employees in the workplace. 

Soundproofing Material Can Help Bring Tranquility Back to Your Home

There are many soundproofing materials that can be used to mitigate the noise coming in from the outside of your residence.  One of the most effective materials on the market is Acoustiblok soundproofing material.

Adding a 3mm (1/8 inch) layer of the UL-approved Acoustiblok material increases a standard stud wall’s soundproofing factor by more than 98-percent and can result in more sound reduction than 12-inches of poured concrete. While other materials attempt to “stop” or “absorb” sound, Acoustiblok does neither. As the heavy, limp Acoustiblok material vibrates from the sound, it actually “transforms” the acoustical energy into “inaudible friction energy” in a process referred to as “isothermal adiabatic.” Lead, previously considered the best soundproofing, works on precisely the same basis and has exactly the same Sound Transmission Classification (STC) sound reduction rating. This material has been featured on some Do-It-Yourself Television Network shows in the United States. This materials has been in use for more than a decade across the world and has proven to be effective at reducing noise inside residential and commercial buildings. Acoustiblok material was named was a "Best Products" award winner in Builder News Magazine. 

Click on the following video to see how easily Acoustiblok can be installed inside your walls. 

In an existing structure, other soundproofing materials are available that can create a quieter environment inside your home or residence. One of these materials is called Acoustiblok-Wallcover. This material can provide tranquility in the study or nursery when the television or home theater is at full volume in the adjacent room. Any room in the house can become a sanctuary with Acoustiblok Wallcover, so piano practice in the music room won’t interfere with reading or quiet conversation in the bedroom. For business and professional associations that must provide private conference and meeting rooms, Acoustiblok Wallcover is a perfect solution for preventing conversations from being heard in adjacent rooms. Attorneys, physicians, and law enforcement agencies must be able to provide private, soundproof rooms to assure client confidentiality and to protect sensitive information discussed during corporate meetings.

003Acoustiblok Wallcover’s flexible material measures approximately ¼ of an inch thick, and is available in 4-foot by 8-foot sections. Weighing about one pound per square foot, Acoustiblok Wallcover is fairly heavy, which is why it takes two or three people to install. A simple box cutter is all that is needed to create cutouts for electric sockets and light switch panels. The material can be painted to match the decor of any room. 



Mr.R.R.Nair, Noise Pollution - Critical Overview; Industrial Safety Review, India's Leading Monthly Magazine on Fire Safety & Electronic Security Industry.Sept, 2012

Romi Jain, author - Global Views 

DIY Television Network, USA 





Tags: noise regulations, India, India noise, soundproofing, industrial noise, Noise pollution, Acoustiblok, noise

USA Today Says Noise is Most Common Neighbor Dispute

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Jul 15, 2013 12:35:00 PM


Complaint to Neighbor Form 

According to a USA Today newspaper article of July 12, 2013 that cites a source, noise is the most common neighbor dispute. The following are some excerpts from another article:

USA Today Top Neighbor Complaints Photo July 2013There are several reactive actions you can take including:

•  Research the noise and nuisance laws that prohibit excessive and unhealthy noise. Check on your county or city website, or simply Google: “Noise ordinance, (your county name). You should get many web listings for information. 

•  Talk to your neighbor about the noise issue. If nothing results from that, you can call the police and even take legal action against them, although you’re probably not going to remain friends once you go that far

 A “Proactive” Option:   Soundproof Your Home

 There is one sure way that you can ensure that neighbor noise doesn’t affect you while you are in your home. It puts the solution in your hands and is proactive. Soundproofing your walls will help create a quieter environment in your own home and will help block irritating outside noise from invading your space. 

Acoustiblok soundproofing material has been featured on DIY Network Shows. It is a flexible, dense membrane that can actually absorb noise. As Acoustiblok vibrates from sound, it actually transforms the acoustical energy into inaudible friction energy. Lead, previously considered the best soundproofing, works on this same principle. Annoying train sounds, construction equipment sound, music, etc. is abated by Acoustiblok. It goes on the studs of the wall before the drywall goes up. You can put it under your subfloor and put it in your walls to make your house quieter. 

Click On the Links Below and See Acoustiblok Soundproofing Material For Yourself 

http:/ (blocking sound)

http:/http:/ (home theater installation) (installation how to video)

A More Technical Explanation of Acoustiblok

•  Acoustiblok can reduce sound transmission by as much as 30 db depending on the frequencies.

 Acoustiblok soundproofing material is a unique barium free flexible 1/8" thick 1.1 lb. psf U.L. Classified, high STC reinforced dense noise isolating material which is utilized as a structural treatment for reducing sound transmission. 

•  Acoustiblok material contains no lead, barium or asbestos materials. 

• Acoustiblok material is specifically formulated to meet rigid requirements such that it is approved by U.L. for walls, ceilings and floors (see U.L. classification), also U.K. tested "B.S. 476: part 7". 

•  Acoustiblok material is typically applied as part of layered wall, ceiling or floor construction. It is usually stapled to wood studs or screwed to metal studs prior to drywall. 

•  Acoustiblok material has the same sound deadening effectiveness as lead without lead's problems. A typical 2 x 4 gypsum stud wall is usually 33 to 35 STC. Just one layer of Acoustiblok installed in the 2 x 4 wall is lab certified at an amazing "STC of 52" (STC 53 if with MTL studs), better than 12" of poured concrete (STC 51).

Why Can’t I Just Use Additional Drywall?

Independent certified laboratory test results demonstrate using additional layers of drywall is not a substitute for an Acoustiblok installation: Beyond the fact that the STC of Acoustiblok is better, it is very important to understand and remember that the objective is to reduce what a person hears, and is annoyed by, from the other side of a wall.

Tags: neighbor noise, neighborhood noise, soundproofing, Noise pollution, noise abatement, Acoustiblok

Loud, Noisy Restaurants Make Food Taste Bland to Diners Study Says

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Jun 14, 2013 5:28:00 PM

Club Applebees

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 Applebee's 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, Applebee's had become part restaurant and part night club complete with a live DJ and loud amplified speakers. What was with all this restaurant noise, I thought. 

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 potato chips 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?

Establishments are putting thought into what they want their customers to hear. But why? Is it all about atmosphere? Not according to science. First, when you eat in places with high noise levels, you lose the ability to accurately guage how sweet or salty your food is. It has to do with the way your brain is wired -- continual loud noises whip the neurons of your ear up into such a rage that for no reason they stage an all-out assault on the weaker neurons of your taste buds.

A cynical person could say that restaurants with lower quality food crank up the noise so that you're less likely to notice it, but we have no way of knowing that (maybe they just think the music adds to the "fun" atmosphere).

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. Excessive noise can also lead to anxiety. If there's too little noise, customers may feel like their conversations can be overheard by absolutely everyone in the place. 

Yelp Noise RatingRestaurant 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 in 2011, 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.

Open kitchen restaurant- 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, atmosphere 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; wooden tables and 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.

restaurant soundproofing, noisy restaurantsOne 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 restaurant 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 and Indoor Sound Panels, can reduce restaurant 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.


Tags: noisy restaurants, man-made noise pollution, hard surface noise abatement, noise levels, sound absorption, bland food, noise absorbing material, restaurant noise, restaurants, soundproofing, noise control, Acoustiblok, sound abatement, indoor noise

During A Tornado Emergency, Will Your Residential Standby Generator Be A Noise Nuisance?

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Jun 7, 2013 8:02:00 PM

Acoustiblok standby generator blog

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, 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.

 Fujita TORNADO 1 ScaleMother Nature 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.

When the Power Goes OutPower 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. 

Residential gen with barrier and without barrierPower 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 pollution 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.  


Tags: neighborhood sounds, generator enclosures, noisy generator, quieting generators, noise fines, generator soundproofing, noise from generator, residential standby generators, tornado safety, disaster preparedness, neighborhood noise, generators, noise recuction, soundproofing, Noise pollution, noise abatement, Acoustiblok, noise, Noise absorption

Doctor Torok Writes About HIPAA and Medical Facility Acoustical Soundproofing in Cosmetic Dermatology Journal

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on May 6, 2013 5:32:00 PM

HIPAA oral privacy, HIPAA, soundproofing, medical facility soundproofing, HIPAA complianceHIPAA oral privacy, HIPAA, soundproofing, medical facility soundproofing, HIPAA complianceHIPAA oral privacy, HIPAA, soundproofing, medical facility soundproofing, HIPAA complianceHIPAA oral privacy, HIPAA, soundproofing, medical facility soundproofing, HIPAA compliance

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:


Article Excerpts

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.

HIPAA oral privacy, HIPAA, soundproofing, medical facility soundproofing, HIPAA complianceAlso 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. 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. 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. Accessed June 15, 2011.
7. Strategic National Implementation Process. Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange Web site. 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. Updated March 14, 2006. Accessed July 18, 2011.
10. White noise delays auditory organization in brain [news release]. ScienceDaily; April 18, 2003. Accessed July 15, 2011. n


READ MORE: Related Information 

About Dr. Helen M. Torok, MD


Cosmetic Dermatology

Trillium Creek Dermatology and Aesthetic Center, Medina, Ohio

Soundproofing products

Tags: health care facility noise, HIPAA, HIPAA privacy, patient privacy, medical facilities, patient rights, oral privacy, soundproofing, noise abatement, Acoustiblok