AWC17 Keynote: Damage from impulsive noise

Berger portrait


Elliott Berger is a Division Scientist for 3M’s Personal Safety Division.  For 40 years he has studied hearing protection, hearing conservation, and related topics, and authored 14 textbook chapters and over 70 published articles.  He chairs the ANSI working group on hearing protector attenuation, served on a National Academy of Science committee on hearing loss in the military, is a Fellow of the ASA, Past-President of NHCA, Fellow of the AIHA and Past-Chair of its Noise Committee, a past Board Member of CAOHC, and a recipient of NHCA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  Among his favorite sounds is the silvery flutter of the leaves of a stand of river birch tickled by a cool evening breeze.


Bang!  Damage from impulse noise and the effectiveness of hearing protection

Some of the most hazardous sounds we hear are brief sounds – noises from impacts and impulses.  These arise from sources like household tools, construction, industrial noise, firecrackers, guns, and even automotive airbags.  The progression of damage to the ear from sounds such as these differs from the gradual hearing loss due to long-term exposure to high-level noise.  The various mechanisms will be revealed, as will the related damage-risk criteria for impulse noise that describe how many of those brief sounds as a function of level the ear can tolerate, before injury occurs.  There still exists serious debate within the scientific community concerning such estimates and how they are derived.  The other part of the story is, of course, what can be done about it?  To address this, we will explore hearing protection for such noises, including how hearing protection devices are measured, how they perform, and suggestions for their use.  This talk will provide you the information you need to help assure that you and those in your hearing conservation program will never have to miss what you’ve been hearing.

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