Abstract: In environmental noise control one commonly employs the A-weighted sound level as an approximate measure of the effect of noise on people. A measure that is more closely related to direct human perception of noise is the loudness level. At constant A-weighted sound level, the loudness level of a noise signal varies considerably with the shape of the frequency spectrum of the noise signal. In particular the bandwidth of the spectrum has a large effect on the loudness level, due to the effect of critical bands in the human hearing system. The low-frequency content of the spectrum also has an effect on the loudness level. In this note the relation between loudness level and A-weighted sound level is analyzed for various environmental noise spectra, including spectra of traffic noise, aircraft noise, and industrial noise. From loudness levels calculated for these environmental noise spectra, diagrams are constructed that show the relation between loudness level, A‑weighted sound level, and shape of the spectrum. The diagrams show that the upper limits of the loudness level for broadband environmental noise spectra are about 20 to 40 phon higher than the lower limits for narrowband spectra, which correspond to the loudness levels of pure tones. The diagrams are useful for assessing limitations and potential improvements of environmental noise control methods and policy based on A-weighted sound levels.
Keywords: environmental noise policy; loudness level; noise-related health effects
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Salomons, E.M.; Janssen, S.A. Practical Ranges of Loudness Levels of Various Types of Environmental Noise, Including Traffic Noise, Aircraft Noise, and Industrial Noise. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8, 1847-1864.
Salomons EM, Janssen SA. Practical Ranges of Loudness Levels of Various Types of Environmental Noise, Including Traffic Noise, Aircraft Noise, and Industrial Noise. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2011; 8(6):1847-1864.
Salomons, Erik M.; Janssen, Sabine A. 2011. "Practical Ranges of Loudness Levels of Various Types of Environmental Noise, Including Traffic Noise, Aircraft Noise, and Industrial Noise." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 8, no. 6: 1847-1864.