Acoustiblok Soundproofing Blog Articles

World Record for Loudest Outdoor Stadium Noise Registers on Seismometer

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Dec 3, 2013 6:33:00 PM


Video about cuttent record.                                  Video about previous records.

Line graphic for blog

European futbol fans be on alert. While your stadiums are known for loud fans and crowd antics, American football fans are out to top your noise records. During the NFL Monday Night Football game on December 2, 2013, Seattle Seahawks fans at CenturyLink Field not only broke the Guinness World Record for loudest outdoor stadium noise at 137.6 decibels during their game with the New Orleans Saints, they also set off seismometers five different times during the game. The Seattle Seahawks' fans have again set a noise record, taking back a mark they achieved earlier this season.

University of Washington Earth and Space Sciences Professor John Vidale says that the school's seismometer, located not far from the stadium, detected seismic activity five separate times during the Seahawks latest win over New Orleans. The University of Washington seismology lab first recorded what is now called the "Beastquake" almost three years ago, when Marshawn Lynch completed a 67-yard touchdown run against the Saints.

describe the imageThe sound pain threshold for humans is 120-130 decibels. Any sound above 85 dB can cause hearing loss (the loss is related both to the power of the sound as well as the length of exposure). A 10 decibel increase in sound is perceived as half the amount of sound to the human ear. A 10 decibel decrease in sound is perceived as half the amount of reduced sound to the human ear.

To put this 137.6 decibels of sound in perspective, the following are some incredibly

Rock Concert Speakers - A 400,000 Watt rock concert or a similar set of speakers mounted in a vehicle can reach ear-splitting decibel levels of 135-145 decibel sound waves.

NHRA Dragsters - Sitting next to a dragster as it fires up its engines and screams down the raceway can be more than just loud; it can be damaging to your entire body. At the 155-160 Decibel range not only will it severely to permanently damage your hearing, but it also vibrates your vision and makes it temporarily difficult to swallow. That’s why no one stands next to them.

One Ton TNT Bomg - Standing as close as 250 feet away from the impact, the resulting explosion from a 1 ton bomb creates a decibel count of 210. Without sufficient hearing protection, not to mention a complete sound-resistant bunker surrounding you, you could quite literally die from the intense vibrations that would literally shake you apart. Unless, of course, you were under the bomb.

Fireworks - Though not typically heard up close by most people, fireworks are still explosions and are very loud, even though they are not typically loud from far away. The sound heard from the sky is pretty loud, though not damaging, but at the bursting point the decibel levels reach a staggering 145-150. Even tests are performed under strict sound proofing to avoid any ear injury.

describe the imageCall of the Blue Whale - While most people won't hear this sound in real time, blue whales mostly emit very loud, highly structured, repetitive low-frequency rumbling sounds that can travel for many miles underwater. These songs may be used for communicating with other blue whales, especially in order to attract and find mates. The call of the blue whale reaches levels up to 188 decibels. This extraordinarily loud whistle can be heard for hundreds of miles underwater. The whale is the loudest, and, the largest animal on earth.

Gunfire - Gunfire for anyone unfortunate enough to be standing near it can be quite damaging to the ears registering at approximately 145-155 decibels. Wearing hearing protection on the firing range is highly advisable.

Space Shuttle Launch - When the rockets fire, it is not only wise, but in fact, it is fully enforced that you stand at least a half-mile away. If you don't, you will get inundated by 165-170 decibels of painful sound. Unlike many other loud noises, the shuttle rocket sound is constant as it creates the thrust necessary to lift it from the ground.



Tags: crowd noise, Stadium noise, sports noise, Noise pollution, noise

WARNING: Secondhand Noise In the Area

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Nov 7, 2013 6:05:00 PM

 noise, secondhand noise, Acoustiblok

It creates stress and stimulates aggression and other social behaviors. It causes headaches, makes you irritable, and can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. It can raise your blood pressure and cause heart disease and hearing loss over time.  Surely, this sounds like something that has to be dealt with. What is it? Noise. 

Where are the ad campaigns informing people of the dangers of excessive noise? Where are the public service announcements aimed at educating youth and adults about the health effects of constant loud noise? They are rarely seen. The closest thing we see or hear are warnings and announcements aimed at youths who listen to loud music in headphones. It's time to start spreading the word.  

Noise and Secondhand noise, AcoustiblokNoise that is experienced by people who did not produce it is called second hand-noise. Like secondhand smoke, secondhand noise can have negative impacts on people without their consent. Exposure to secondhand noise occurs in many places such as homes, the workplace, restaurants and bars, on a city street, at a park, and many other places we frequent. 

Some examples of secondhand noise include:

   -  An airplane flying over your house or place of residence

   -  Trains traveling near your home or workplace all day long   

-  Cars, trucks, tractor trailers, buses and motorcycles driving up and down the roads

   -  Construction workers using jack hammers or operating heavy equipment like bulldozers

   -  A constant humming noise of a neighbor’s loud HVAC unit running constantly

   -  A neighbor with a dog that barks constantly 

   -  Noise coming from excessively loud car stereos

   -  Loud noise from small engine powered landscaping machines.

We experience noise in a number of ways. On some occasions, we can be both the cause and the victim of noise, such as when we are operating noisy appliances or equipment. There are also instances when we experience noise generated by others just as people experience second-hand smoke. While in both instances, noises are equally damaging, second-hand noise is more troubling because it has negative impacts on us but is put into the environment by others, without our consent. And it’s nearly impossible to avoid these days. While noise regulations worldwide have helped regulate the amount of noise that a person or machine can create at a given time of the day, most police departments seem to be unwilling or unable to respond to noise-related problems in a way that provides any measure of genuine or timely control. The amount of man-made noise in the environment is still a serious problem. 

Let’s face it, eliminating secondhand noise is virtually impossible in the 21st century as things stand today. Even staying in your house or place of residence can’t keep secondhand noise out. It’s getting harder and harder to find quiet environments. While separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, opening windows, and ventilating buildings can eliminate secondhand smoke exposure, it’s much more difficult with sound and noise.  Unlike light waves, sound waves travel through walls of the places we live, work, and frequent. While it’s impossible to eliminate all noise in an environment, there are ways that you can mitigate the amount of entering walls of buildings.

More widespread use of sound mitigating materials in the structure of buildings at the construction phase would help give people a quieter place to escape too void of outside noises. Modern soundproofing materials such as Acoustiblok and Quietfiber for example, can reduce noise inside to a more comfortable level. 

Tags: soundproofing materials, secondhand noise, Effects of noise, health effects of noise, soundproofing, Noise pollution, noise

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

I'm Thinking. Please. Be Quiet

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Aug 28, 2013 1:25:00 PM


Main Image for NY Times Noise Blog Post Aug 2013__________________________________________________________________________________

The following is an excerpt from Author George Prochnik that ran in the New York Times Opinion Pages on Sunday, on August 24, 2013.  George Prochnik is the author of the forthcoming book “The Impossible Exile.”  ___________________________________________________________________________________

Slamming doors, banging walls, bellowing strangers and whistling neighbors were the bane of the (19th Century German) philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s (shown above) existence. But it was only in later middle age, after he had moved with his beloved poodle to the commercial hub of Frankfurt, that his sense of being tortured by loud, often superfluous blasts of sound ripened into a philosophical diatribe. Then, around 1850, Schopenhauer pronounced noise to be the supreme archenemy of any serious thinker.

His argument against noise was simple: A great mind can have great thoughts only if all its powers of concentration are brought to bear on one subject, in the same way that a concave mirror focuses light on one point.

Just as a mighty army becomes useless if its soldiers are scattered helter-skelter, a great mind becomes ordinary the moment its energies are dispersed.

describe the imageAnd nothing disrupts thought the way noise does, Schopenhauer declared, adding that even people who are not philosophers lose whatever ideas their brains can carry in consequence of brutish jolts of sound.

From the vantage point of our own auditory world, with its jets, jackhammers, HVAC systems, truck traffic, cellphones, horns, decibel-bloated restaurants and gyms on acoustical steroids, Schopenhauer’s mid-19th century complaints sound almost quaint. His biggest gripe of all was the “infernal cracking” of coachmen’s whips. (If you think a snapping line of
rawhide’s a problem, buddy, try the Rumbler Siren.) But if noise did shatter thought in the past, has more noise in more places further diffused our cognitive activity?

Environmental noise calls attention to itself — splits our own attention, regardless of willpower. We jerk to the tug of noise like sonic marionettes. There’s good reason for this. Among mammals, hearing developed as an early warning system; the human ear derived from the listening apparatus of very small creatures. Their predators were very big, and there were many of them.

blog ear spimd waves The evolved ear is an extraordinary amplifier. By the time the brain registers a sound, our auditory mechanism has jacked the volume several hundredfold from the level at which the sound wave first started washing around the loopy whirls of our ears. This is why, in a reasonably quiet room, we actually can hear a pin drop. Think what a tiny quantity of sound energy is released by a needle striking a floor! Our ancestors needed such hypersensitivity, because every standout noise signified a potential threat.

There has been a transformation in our relationship to the environment over the millions of years since the prototype for human hearing evolved, but part of our brain hasn’t registered the makeover.

Every time a siren shrieks on the street, our conscious minds might ignore it, but other brain regions behave as if that siren were a predator barreling straight for us. Given how many sirens city dwellers are subject to over the course of an average day, and the attention-fracturing tension induced by loud sounds of every sort, it’s easy to see how sensitivity to noise, once an early warning system for approaching threats, has become a threat in itself.

Indeed, our capacity to tune out noises — a relatively recent adaptation — may itself pose a danger, since it allows us to neglect the physical damage that noise invariably wreaks. A Hyena (Hypertension and Exposure to Noise Near Airports) study published in 2009 examined the effects of aircraft noise on sleeping subjects. The idea was to see what effect noise had, not only on those awakened by virtual fingernails raking the blackboard of the night sky, but on the hardy souls who actually slept through the thunder of overhead jets.

blood pressure1BlueThe findings were clear: even when people stayed asleep, the noise of planes taking off and landing caused blood pressure spikes, increased pulse rates and set off vasoconstriction and the release of stress hormones. Worse, these harmful cardiovascular responses continued to affect individuals for many hours after they had awakened and gone on with their days.

As Dr. Wolfgang Babisch, a lead researcher in the field, observed, there is no physiological habituation to noise. The stress of audible assault affects us psychologically even when we don’t consciously register noise.

In American culture, we tend to regard sensitivity to noise as a sign of weakness or killjoy prudery. To those who complain about sound levels on the streets, inside their homes and across a swath of public spaces like stadiums, beaches and parks, we say: “Suck it up. Relax and have a good time.” But the scientific evidence shows that loud sound is physically debilitating. A recent World Health Organization report on the burden of disease from environmental noise conservatively estimates that Western Europeans lose more than one million healthy life years annually as a consequence of noise-related disability and disease. Among environmental hazards, only air pollution causes more damage.

A while back, I was interviewed on a call-in radio station serving remote parts of Newfoundland. One caller lived in a village with just a few houses and almost no vehicular traffic. Her family had been sitting in the living room one evening when the power suddenly cut off. They simultaneously exhaled a sigh of relief. All at once, the many electronic devices around them (including the refrigerator, computers, generator, lamps and home entertainment systems and the unnatural ambient hum they generated and to which the family had become oblivious) went silent. The family members didn’t realize until the sound went off how loud it had become. Without knowing it, each family member’s mental energy was constantly diverted by and responsive to the threat posed by that sound.

Where does this leave those of us facing less restrained barrages? Could a critical mass of sound one day be reached that would make sustained thinking impossible?

Pullout Numb 2 for NY Times Article PostIs quiet a precondition of democracy? The Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter suggested it might just be. “The men whose labors brought forth the Constitution of the United States had the street outside Independence Hall covered with earth so that their deliberations might not be disturbed by passing traffic,” he once wrote. “Our democracy presupposes the deliberative process as a condition of thought and of responsible choice by the electorate.”

The quiet in Independence Hall was not the silence of a monastic retreat, but one that encouraged listening to others and collaborative statesmanship; it was a silence that made them more receptive to the sound of the world around them.

Most people who are seeking more serenity from the acoustical environment aren’t asking for the silence of the tomb. We just believe we should be able to hear ourselves think.





Read George Prochnik’s full article

Learn more about Arthur Schopenhauer

Among 19th century philosophers, Arthur Schopenhauer was among the first to contend that at its core, the universe is not a rational place. (source: Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy



Tags: environmental noise, Effects of noise, effect of noise on concentration, adverse health affects of noise, noise affects on concentration, how noise affects the brain, 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

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

Sound Barrier Fencing Keeps Highway Noise out of Adjacent Communities

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Apr 19, 2013 4:42:00 PM


    Highway sound barrier panels  road and railway sound barrier

There are no Federal regulations specifying what materials can be used to create sound barriers along any stretch of U.S. highway. State DOT officials choose the type of highway traffic barriers that go up along their district roadways, often basing their decision on multiple factors such as budget, aesthetics, durability, maintenance and public input.

The American public has a love-hate relationship with highway noise barriers. Those living closest to noisy highways and rail tracks are most appreciative of sound barriers, which offer them the benefits of increased privacy, better views, a quieter living environment and a healthier lifestyle.

A primary consideration when determining the appropriate design for a noise barrier is the visual impact it will have on the area. Placing a tall barrier adjacent to communities with one-story homes can impede the view and the whole aesthetic dynamic. When it comes to addressing the noise barrier size issue in these communities, one answer is to provide staggered elements, such as native vegetation and other appropriate landscape, to the foreground to reduce the barrier’s visual impact.

Planning the placement of sound barriers is extremely important when it comes to retaining a visually pleasing value within the neighborhood. One rule of thumb that is often adhered to is to locate the noise barrier approximately four times its height from adjacent homes and buildings, and to install landscaping close to the barrier.

Ideally, highway sound barriers should harmonize with their surroundings as much as possible. Some sound abatement materials used in highway barriers are more adaptable than others; in addition to visual considerations, planners look for sound barrier materials that are low maintenance, easily installed and durable.

Sound barriers can have a psychological effect on motorists, a factor that is considered in the design process. The design of noise barriers in dense urban settings will be different than the barriers installed in rural and suburban areas. On urban highways, sound barriers need to be designed to avoid monotony for the motorists, who tend to notice things like surface texture, overall form and color. DOT planners have found that by varying the materials, forms and surface treatments of the barriers, they can combat the “tunnel effect” that motorists experience driving long stretches alongside an unchanging sound barrier wall.

Graffiti is always a potential problem with noise barriers. Using a sound barrier material that can be easily washed or painted is an excellent preventative measure that planners can take, particularly in areas where graffiti is probably going to be an issue.

Vegetation, if it is dense and tall, can provide a very small measure of noise dampening, but not nearly enough to achieve any serious noise reductionalong a busy highway. The best idea is to use trees and vegetation to camouflage the barrier for a visually pleasing solution to highway noise.

Most people who live or work near a highway noise barrier are pleased with the reduced levels of traffic noise, and there is a general consensus that the benefits provided by highway noise barriers far outweigh their disadvantages. While noise barriers do not completely eliminate all highway traffic noise, they do reduce it substantially and improve the quality of life for those who live and work next to busy highways or train rails.

Tags: soundproof fencing, noise dampening, noise deadening, noise barriers, acoustical fencing, highway noise, sound barriers, sound proofing, noise

Noise U: College Athletic Complexes are Noise Issue to residents

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Dec 24, 2012 11:12:00 AM

West Virginia Univ Dick Blek Stadium field view

Today’s collegiate, high school, and recreational multi-sport complexes are getting larger, more complex and costly, and ultimately, noisier for residents who live near them. The collegiate sports facility market alone continues to grow and evolve. As student enrollment increases, outdated facilities age, programs shift and competition on the athletic recruiting front grows more intense.

With the increased expansion of outdoor collegiate sports complexes near residential areas, more and more people are experiencing noise disturbances near their homes. This noise pollution can diminish privacy, affect peace of mind, and increase tension levels for many people. Increasingly, municipalities are looking closer at potential noise issues before new complexes are built. They are seeking proactive approaches and new ways of controlling noise before they are built, rather than rely on reactive solutions later that may or may not be effective.

Let’s look at some recent happenings that made the news at a few colleges and universities. As student populations grow, so must the campuses and physical elements of these schools. As they grow and expand closer and closer to residential areas, so too does the intrusion of noises these complexes onto nearby residential areas.

Northern Kentucky University (NKU), located in Highland Heights, KY, (about 12 miles southeast of downtown Cincinnati) built a new $6.5 million soccer stadium to support its successful men’s and women’s soccer teams. The beautiful, new open-air soccer stadium was built into a hillside on university property near the school’s $69 million state-of-the-art basketball arena.

Norhtern Kentucky University soccer complex  NKUaerialpic

The soccer field borders a residential area located near the backside of the field. Music and voices from the game announcer is broadcast over a public address system before, during and after games. Over the past year, nearby residents have voiced concerns to the university and to the Highland Heights City Council about the noise levels at the complex. Recently, the university announced it is turning to a commonly used solution; planting evergreen trees along the backside area to partially block the noise to nearby residents during games and activities at the soccer complex. These tree barriers are generally not an effective and acceptable noise reduction solution.

West Virginia Univ Dick Blek Stadium aerial 

Similarly, West Virginia University (WVU), located in Morgantown, WV was facing a noise issue at their collegiate soccer complex (shown directly above and at the top of the article). However, rather than using only a natural product like trees to partially block the line of site noise, WVU is taking a more modern and proven approach to solving their noise concerns. They decided to use Acoustiblok’s Acoustifence product, a 1/8-inch thick unique sound deadening material that easily attaches to fences to form a noise barrier. It’s a simple and economical first step noise abatement solution that provides a noise blocker. The material itself provides a meaningful reduction in sound and can represent more than an 80 percent reduction in sound to the human ear depending on the surrounding environment. It is virtually indestructible, very resilient and is proven to reduce noise.

In Kalamazoo, MI, Kalamazoo College (shown below) recently built a new $16-million sports complex that is near a residential community. Even though the new complex is aesthetically pleasing to the residents, some residents of Seven Oaks, Rob Roy on the Lake, and other neighborhoods in the River Hills area formed an organization to oppose the sports complex and retained an attorney to represent their interests. In addition to the traffic issues, they cite problems with wastewater, light pollution and noise. Some residents are concerned that the complex will affect their property values.

Kalamazoo College athletic complex - soccer field View of Kalazoo College athletics complex from nearby street

So the next time the referee blows the whistle to signal the start of a collegiate sports match, it may not be the hundreds or thousands of spectators in the stands that make the most noise. It may be nearby residents who make the loudest noise after the games through noise complaints City Council about their noisy neighbors.

Tags: noise blocking material, college noise issue, noise complaints, noise barrier, noise, residential noise

FAA-Sponsored Soundproofing Could be Pulled as Airport Gets Quieter

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Nov 30, 2012 6:00:00 AM

airport noise

For years the FAA has been working with residents living within so-called noise impact areas of U.S. airports by providing grants to pay for soundproofing materials to be installed in homes within these designated areas.

With aircraft noise pollution named as one of the most maddening and volatile environmental problems among homeowners today, it makes sense that the FAA is stepping in with noise abatement measures for residents who not only fear the health risks of the high decibel noise, but want to protect their real estate values as well. Noise pollution is associated with serious health problems, sleep deprivation, lowered productivity and other issues.

Although governmental agencies are stepping up to the plate to address the rising problem of noise pollution, the tables can turn unexpectedly for citizens who live in areas in which airport-related noise pollution levels are actually being lowered.

Residents living around the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California are eligible for federal funding to soundproof their homes, but they’re being told to act fast because the area impacted by air traffic noise pollution around the airport is actually growing smaller.

The shrinking noise-impact zone is changing the status of some residents because fewer flights are coming in and out of the airfield, and aircrafts are being built or modified to operate more quietly, which means the noise-impact zone is expected to condense.

Homeowners who already qualify for the grant-funded soundproofing need to act quickly and take advantage of the FAA-sponsored soundproofing improvements to their homes now, according to the airport’s Executive Director Dan Feger.

“People who have the opportunity right now should take advantage of it because in all likelihood funding for that will go away,” Feger said at a recent meeting of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority.

The first draft of a noise-impact forecast on noise around the airport will now go to the FAA, which has six months to review it.

Since the launch of the soundproofing program, 2,356 single- and multi-family residences have had soundproofing materials installed, and another 357 residential owners have expressed an interest in having these measures taken in their homes as well.

But the owners of 1,926 eligible homes have yet to take advantage of the noise barrier measures offered to them by the FAA.

The decreasing noise-impact boundary surrounding the airport is a welcome sign for anti-noise pollution advocates, who say this is not the norm for airports nationwide. But with the decrease in noise pollution comes the very real fear that falling passenger figures are going to have a negative economic impact on the airport, which handles about 123,000 operations every year including commercial and private planes, helicopters and cargo aircraft.

When the last noise-impact study was completed in 1998, the airport handled 184,500 aircraft operations annually, so the drop-off is significant, However, projections show a rebound in flight numbers between now and 2017, which means this shrinking impact boundary may be short lived.

But homeowners who are eligible for the soundproofing now will lose that eligibility once the smaller noise impact boundary is confirmed and funding is halted. Even if the noise-impact boundary grows again in the future, there are no guarantees that the FAA will provide future home soundproofing for anyone.

Just three months ago, the FAA committed an additional $1 million to soundproof residences within earshot of the Bob Hope airfield’s flight paths in the area’s ongoing effort to reduce the impact of aircraft noise.

The average cost to install soundproofing materials is estimated at $32,094 per home, according to a project report.

In addition, a voluntary curfew was put in place from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. for commercial passenger airlines, but not for UPS or FedEx, which have to be able to fly their cargo into the airport to ensure their morning deliveries.

Funding for the soundproofing program comes from an existing Federal Aviation Administration grant, passenger charges, and the airport authority’s general fund.

Cities throughout the U.S. have similar FAA-sponsored soundproofing programs to alleviate the impact of aircraft noise on citizens who are adversely affected.


Tags: aircraft noise, sound deadening material, soundproofing, Noise pollution, noise insulating material, noise

Noise Levels in Apple's New Palo Alto Store are Ear Splitting

Posted by Liz Ernst on Nov 13, 2012 2:48:00 AM

 Apple Store Palo Alto

When Apple opened its new Palo Alto store last month, everyone was impressed – for about a minute. The new store is an architectural vision, 5,000 square feet of glass walls, a curved glass roof, and Italian stone hand-selected by Steve Jobs himself before his death in 2011. The store is a spectacular sight, especially at night when it is flooded by strategically engineered lighting.  

Unfortunately, this vision in glass and stone was designed and built with no noise absorption whatsoever in place. In fact, the noise from reverberant sound bouncing off all these hard surfaces is so hard on the ears, customers are visiting once and fleeing after a short time. Apple’s $15 million echo chamber is been described as “earsplitting,” “almost unbearably noisy,” and “one big noise machine.”

One visitor told her husband she would not return to the store after spending just a few minutes – she’s afraid of suffering hearing loss.

Are people exaggerating about the noise? Well, in his own blog “Minding the (Apple) Store,” Former Apple executive  Jean-Louis Gassée wrote that a visit to the store shortly after its opening did not have the impact he was hoping for. Gassée said the new store is indeed big, bold, elegant, but almost unbearably noisy.

The quintessential  testament to Apple’s success, painstakingly designed down to the most minute detail and meant to be a prototype for future stores, is an acoustical failure.  Already people who have visited the store are refusing to return because of the high noise levels caused by sound reverberating off its entirely hard surfaces with no noise absorption whatsoever. 

After his initial visit, Gassée returned a few days later with a decibel-measuring app he uploaded to his iPhone, and was stunned by findings. The sounds within the store measured above 75 decibels – five decibels higher than the 70dB threshold the EPA says can cause hearing damage from long term exposure.

Naturally the main question floating inside and outside the Apple organization at the moment is, “what were they thinking?”

Gassée even writes that the sound levels in the store are not just annoying - they're dangerously high. Employees subjected to this level of noise for eight hours per day are at an elevated risk of hearing damage and loss, and for every hour beyond eight that someone remains in the store, the risk increases exponentially.

Apple Store Palo Alto CAIt’s not the first time that Apple ended up looking as if  it didn’t think things through thoroughly, although for the most part the company is known for its meticulous attention to detail; Apple generally enjoys a reputation of striving for excellence.

Nor is Apple the first company to blow a great architectural design by giving no forethought to acoustics either, especially in recent years when hard surfaces and minimalist design have become highly desirable.

But it has to be discouraging that the reverberant noise and deafening acoustics for which hard surface structures are notorious slipped past the architects and contractors, and came as a total surprise to everyone only after the store opened.

One company insider was quoted as saying,It’s bad for customers, it’s bad for the staff, it’s bad for business, and it’s bad for the brand. Apple appears to be more concerned with style than with substance!”

Gassée likened the failure to the recent Apple Maps catastrophe.

“An obvious problem ignored,” he said.

When all was said and done, Gassée found that the inside of the store measured a full 10 decibels louder than the street traffic noise outside on high-trafficked University Avenue. When you’re talking decibels, sound pressure doubles for every three decibel increase in the environment. That said, a 10 decibel increase makes the noise inside the Apple Store about 10 times louder than the street noise outside.

It should be interesting to see who is held to the proverbial fire over this blunder, but to their credit, Apple is studying the noise problem and working on an answer.  And although there’s no telling how long it might take, there’s little doubt the company will resolve the issue.

They’re Apple. They can do anything, right?


Tags: noise absorbing material, reverberant noise, echo, noise related hearing loss, soundproofing, Noise pollution, noise