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Noise Health. 2010 Jul-Sep;12(48):166-81. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.64974.

Evaluation of annoyance from low frequency noise under laboratory conditions.

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Department of Physical Hazards, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Lodz, Poland.


The aim of the study was to investigate the annoyance of low frequency noise (LFN) at levels normally prevailing at workplaces in control rooms and office-like areas. Two different laboratory experiments were carried out. The first experiment included 55 young volunteers and the second one comprised 70 older volunteers, categorized in terms of sensitivity to noise. The subjects listened to noise samples with different spectra, including LFNs at sound pressure level (SPL) of 45-67 dBA, and evaluated annoyance using a 100-score graphical rating scale. The subjective ratings of annoyance were compared to different noise metrics. In both the experiments, there were no differences in annoyance assessments between females and males. A significant influence of individual sensitivity to noise on annoyance rating was observed for some LFNs. Annoyance of LFN was not rated higher than annoyance from broadband noises without or with less prominent low frequencies at similar A-weighted SPLs. In both the experiments, median annoyance rating of LFN highly correlated with A-weighted SPL (L(Aeq,T)), low frequency A-weighted SPL (L(LFAeq,T)) and C-weighted SPL (L(Ceq,T)). However, it is only the two latter noise metrics (i.e. L(LFAeq,T) and L(Ceq,T)) which seem to be reliable predictors of annoyance exclusively from LFN. The young and older participants assessed similar annoyance from LFN at similar L(LFAeq,T) or L(Ceq,T) levels. Generally, over half of the subjects were predicted to be highly annoyed by LFN at the low frequency A-weighted SPL or C-weighted SPL above 62 and 83 dB, respectively.

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