The FAA allows Americans to be exposed to unsafe levels of aircraft noise

Daniel Fink – djfink01@aol.com
Twitter: @QuietCoalition

Board Chair, The Quiet Coalition, 60 Thoreau Street, Concord, MA, 01742, United States

The Quiet Coalition is a program of Quiet Communities, Inc., Lincoln, MA, USA

Popular version of 4aNS8-The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows Americans to be exposed to unsafe levels of aviation noise, presented at the 183rd ASA Meeting.

Photo credit: Pixabay 

The American Public Health Association states, “Noise is unwanted and/or harmful sound.” Noise not loud enough to damage hearing causes high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) considers noise an annoyance but does not acknowledge the adverse health effects of aircraft noise. Based on the Schultz curve, the FAA adopted 65 dBA Day-Night Level (DNL) as “the threshold for significant aviation noise, below which residential land use is compatible.”  The FAA’s recent Neighborhood Environmental Survey found that many more Americans are annoyed by noise than previously known.

Schultz Curve and Neighborhood Environmental Survey results, showing that many more Americans are annoyed by noise than the Schultz Curve showed. Source: FAA

 

[I have to tell you a little about the science of sound or noise measurement. The words sound and noise are used interchangeably. Sound is measured in decibels (dB). The decibel scale is logarithmic. This means that a 10 dB increase from 50 to 60 dB indicates 10 times more sound energy, not merely 20% more. Because noise disrupts sleep, DNL measures noise for 24 hours but adds a 10 dB penalty for noise between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.  A-weighting (dBA) adjusts sound measurements for the frequencies heard in human speech. A-weighting is not the right measure for aircraft noise because aircraft noise has lower frequencies than speech. A-weighting also reduces unweighted sound measurements by about 20-30 dB.]

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), though, safe noise levels are only 45 dB DNL for indoor noise and 55 dB DNL for outdoor noise. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends lower aircraft noise levels: 45 dB Day-Evening-Night Level (adding a 5 dB penalty for noise between 7-10 p.m.) and 40 dB at night.  Both EPA safe noise levels and WHO recommended aircraft noise levels are obviously much lower than the FAA’s 65 dBA DNL, especially because they use unweighted dB.

Being annoyed or disturbed by aircraft noise is stressful.  Stress increases heart rate and blood pressure. Stress increases blood levels of stress hormones.  Stress causes inflammation of the blood vessel lining. in turn causing cardiovascular disease, including hypertension and heart attacks, and other adverse health effects. Scientific experts think that the evidence is strong enough to establish causality, not merely a statistical association. Epidemiological studies demonstrating these effects have been confirmed by human and animal research. The biological mechanisms are now understood at the cellular, subcellular, molecular, and genetic levels.  Aircraft noise also affects poor and minority communities more than others. Children are also more sensitive to damage from noise, which also interferes with learning.

The FAA insists that more research is needed, but no more research is needed to know that aviation noise is hazardous to health.  The FAA must establish lower noise standards to protect Americans exposed to aircraft noise.

Turning Hearing Aids into Noise-Canceling Devices

Turning Hearing Aids into Noise-Canceling Devices

Assistive listening devices can filter out noise from loudspeakers, improving clarity

Media Contact:
Larry Frum
AIP Media
301-209-3090
media@aip.org

DENVER, May 25, 2022 – People with hearing aids and other assistive listening devices often struggle at crowded events, because the various sources of sound make it difficult to make out any one of them clearly.

During the 182nd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Ryan M. Corey, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will discuss his technique to improve hearing aid performance by actively canceling out unwanted sounds from speaker systems. His presentation, “Turn the music down! Repurposing assistive listening broadcast systems to remove nuisance sounds,” will take place May 25 at 1:45 p.m. Eastern U.S. at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

For someone using an assistive listening device in a crowded place, it might make little difference whether the device is on or off. Nearby conversation directed at the user might be drowned out by distant conversation between other people, ambient noise from the environment, or music or speech piped through a loudspeaker system.

Corey and his colleagues worked to eliminate at least one source of noise, the one emanating from loudspeakers or other broadcast systems. By pairing the hearing aid with the broadcast system, the researchers can cancel out whatever is being broadcast and leaving the user free to enjoy nearby conversation.

“This project is a form of selective noise cancellation,” said Corey. “Noise-canceling headphones, like the kind that are popular for airplanes, are designed to cancel out everything. In this system, we only want to cancel a specific sound, like the music playing over the speakers, but let other sounds through.”

This approach is designed to be versatile and seamless. It should work for any venue, indoor or outdoor, where a loudspeaker or broadcast system is present. and should remove only the broadcast noise while preserving other nearby sounds just as the listener would normally hear them.

In the future, Corey hopes to combine this technology with arrays of microphones to give wearers of assistive listening devices even more control over which sounds they can listen to.

“My research is devoted to making hearing technology work better in noisy environments, usually by adding more microphones that can pick up sound from far away,” said Corey. “Most of my research focuses on those technologies, and they could be combined with this system to both remove noise and enhance specific talkers.”

———————– MORE MEETING INFORMATION ———————–
USEFUL LINKS
Main meeting website: https://acousticalsociety.org/asa-meetings/
Technical program: https://eventpilotadmin.com/web/planner.php?id=ASASPRING22
Press Room: https://acoustics.org/world-wide-press-room/

WORLDWIDE PRESS ROOM
In the coming weeks, ASA’s Worldwide Press Room will be updated with additional tips on dozens of newsworthy stories and with lay language papers, which are 300 to 500 word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio and video. You can visit the site during the meeting at https://acoustics.org/world-wide-press-room/.

PRESS REGISTRATION
We will grant free registration to credentialed journalists and professional freelance journalists. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, contact AIP Media Services at media@aip.org. For urgent requests, staff at media@aip.org can also help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips, or background information.

ABOUT THE ACOUSTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world’s leading journal on acoustics), JASA Express Letters, Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics, Acoustics Today magazine, books, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. See https://acousticalsociety.org/.

Listening Can Be Exhausting for Older Cochlear Implant Users

Listening Can Be Exhausting for Older Cochlear Implant Users

Aging effects on listening effort in cochlear-implant users

Media Contact:
Larry Frum
AIP Media
301-209-3090
media@aip.org

DENVER, May 24, 2022 – Degraded acoustic signals can make hearing difficult for anyone, but differences in cognitive abilities, age-related changes, and the use of cochlear implants may exacerbate the problem. If it is more challenging to hear, it is also exhausting to communicate.

In her presentation, “Aging effects on listening effort in cochlear-implant users,” Kristina DeRoy Milvae will discuss the results of two experiments that examined impacts on listening effort. The session will take place May 24 at 12:50 p.m. Eastern U.S. at the 182nd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

The first experiment measured how changes in acoustic signal degradation affected listening effort in younger and older adults with normal hearing. Pupil dilation was used as a proxy for listening effort. As people age, highly degraded signals can result in listeners needing to exert even more effort.

In the second experiment, Milvae and her team tested how individual differences in working memory scores affected listening effort in cochlear implant users. Lower working memory scores did not predict increased listening effort.

“A better understanding of listening effort gives a more holistic picture of how we hear,” said Milvae. “Measures of listening effort can help us to better understand the cochlear implant listening experience and help the scientific community to work toward evidence-based approaches to improve listening effort in populations with hearing loss.”

The team’s results emphasize the importance of developing practices to reduce listening effort. Milvae sees three potential paths forward: technological advances in cochlear implants to improve signal clarity, secondary cochlear implants for some users, and aural rehabilitation measures.

“With a cochlear implant, one may be able to better communicate in a noisy restaurant than without. It may take some effort, but with that effort comes the social interaction that was not possible before,” she said. “What is clinically important is to help those who are constantly in a state of high listening effort, which could lead to fatigue and reduced quality of life, because they will want to avoid these social situations.”

———————– MORE MEETING INFORMATION ———————–
USEFUL LINKS
Main meeting website: https://acousticalsociety.org/asa-meetings/
Technical program: https://eventpilotadmin.com/web/planner.php?id=ASASPRING22
Press Room: https://acoustics.org/world-wide-press-room/

WORLDWIDE PRESS ROOM
In the coming weeks, ASA’s Worldwide Press Room will be updated with additional tips on dozens of newsworthy stories and with lay language papers, which are 300 to 500 word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio and video. You can visit the site during the meeting at https://acoustics.org/world-wide-press-room/.

PRESS REGISTRATION
We will grant free registration to credentialed journalists and professional freelance journalists. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, contact AIP Media Services at media@aip.org. For urgent requests, staff at media@aip.org can also help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips, or background information.

ABOUT THE ACOUSTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world’s leading journal on acoustics), JASA Express Letters, Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics, Acoustics Today magazine, books, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. See https://acousticalsociety.org/.

3aPPb1 – Spectral Processing Deficits Appear to Underlie Developmental Language Disorders

Susan Nittrouer, snittrouer@phhp.ufl.edu
Joanna H. Lowenstein
Kayla Tellez
Priscilla O’Hara
Donal G. Sinex

Popular version of 3aPPb1 Spectral processing deficits appear to underlie developmental language disorders
Presented Wednesday morning, May 25, 2022
182nd ASA Meeting
Click here to read the abstract

The Problem

Sophisticated oral and written language skills are essential to academic and occupational success in our modern, technically based society. Unfortunately, as many as twenty percent of children encounter difficulties learning language, a condition termed Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). This work was undertaken to try to uncover the root of these problems.

Brief Background

For 50 years, scientists have hypothesized that auditory problems are at the root of the challenges encountered by children with DLD. The idea is that children with DLD simply cannot recognize the acoustic structure in speech signals that underlies linguistic forms. Work in this area, however, has been fraught with controversy, and at present, no agreed-upon explanation exists.

What we did

We believe that children with DLD likely have problems processing the acoustic speech signal. In our work we changed three components of our approach from earlier work.

  1. Auditory problems are likely worst at young ages and disrupt language learning at the initial stages. The auditory problems may eventually resolve, but children may be left with language deficits. We looked across ages 7-10 years for evidence of auditory problems that might be more severe in younger than older
  2. The critical auditory problems may involve spectral (frequency), rather than temporal structure, as commonly manipulated. The spectral structure of speech signals is most responsible for defining linguistic We tested children on their ability to detect both temporal and spectral structure.

Watch video here.

  1. Word-internal elements, known as phonological units (or simply phonemes), may be disproportionately affected by auditory problems, rather than vocabulary or syntactic We tested all three kinds of skills: vocabulary, syntax, and phonology, with a focus on phonological skills. We expected to find the strongest effects of auditory problems on those phonological skills.

What we found

  1. Younger children with DLD showed more severe auditory problems than older children with
  2. Problems detecting spectral structure were more severe for children with DLD and lasted longer across age than problems detecting temporal
  3. Problems with spectral structure were most strongly related to children’s awareness of phonological units, rather than lexical or syntactic

Significance

These findings should serve to refocus research efforts on different kinds of acoustic structure than those examined previously, as well as on specific language deficits. DLD puts children at serious risk for problems in school that can masquerade as other disorders, such as attention deficit or reading problems. Underlying conditions – including premature birth and frequent ear infections in infancy – can cause the kinds of auditory problems identified in the work reported here, and unfortunately, children living in poverty face healthcare inequities that put them at risk for those medical problems. This work is one more step in efforts to achieve equity in educational outcomes.

Filtering Unwanted Sounds from Baby Monitors

Filtering Unwanted Sounds from Baby Monitors

Ideal baby monitors alert parents to infant cries, not irrelevant background noise

Media Contact:
Larry Frum
AIP Media
301-209-3090
media@aip.org

SEATTLE, December 2, 2021 – New parents often keep a constant ear on their children, listening for any signs of distress as their baby sleeps. Baby monitors make that possible, but they can also inundate parents with annoying background audio.

In his presentation, “Open-Source Baby Monitor,” TJ Flynn, of Johns Hopkins University, will discuss his team’s effort to develop and test a smart baby monitor. The talk, on Dec. 2 at 1:25 p.m. Eastern U.S. in Room Columbia C, is part of the 181st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, taking place Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 at the Hyatt Regency Seattle.

Flynn, Shane Lani, and their team aim to create an ideal baby monitor that alerts parents when their baby needs attention but does not transmit or amplify sound from other sources. The project uses open source audio processing hardware, originally intended for hearing aids, to filter out unwanted noises. These extra sounds might lead parents to turn down their baby monitor volume and potentially miss infant cries.

“Three of the study authors, including myself, are parents to new babies,” said Lani, a researcher from Johns Hopkins University. “While not directly applicable to every home, my house is situated next to a large state road and in the flight path for landing planes depending on the wind conditions. Due to these factors, loud motorcycles tearing down the highway and low flying planes have historically been a big culprit in setting off the monitor.”

The researchers found baby cries have a fundamental frequency in the range of 400 to 600 hertz, with plenty of harmonics that extend up to 10 kilohertz. They plan to keep the whole frequency range in mind as they explore signal processing options.

Their device is of comparable size to commercial baby monitors, and they are currently testing its performance.

———————– MORE MEETING INFORMATION ———————–
USEFUL LINKS
Main meeting website: https://acousticalsociety.org/asa-meetings/
Technical program: https://eventpilotadmin.com/web/planner.php?id=ASAFALL21
Press Room: https://acoustics.org/world-wide-press-room/

WORLDWIDE PRESS ROOM
In the coming weeks, ASA’s Worldwide Press Room will be updated with additional tips on dozens of newsworthy stories and with lay language papers, which are 300 to 500 word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio and video. You can visit the site during the meeting at https://acoustics.org/world-wide-press-room/.

PRESS REGISTRATION
We will grant free registration to credentialed journalists and professional freelance journalists. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, contact AIP Media Services at media@aip.org. For urgent requests, staff at media@aip.org can also help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips, or background information.

ABOUT THE ACOUSTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world’s leading journal on acoustics), JASA Express Letters, Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics, Acoustics Today magazine, books, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. See https://acousticalsociety.org/.

During COVID-19 Lockdown, Emotional Wellbeing Declined for Adults with Vision, Hearing Loss

During COVID-19 Lockdown, Emotional Wellbeing Declined for Adults with Vision, Hearing Loss

Older individuals with sensory impairment suffered from lack of social interactions during pandemic

Media Contact:
Larry Frum
AIP Media
301-209-3090
media@aip.org

SEATTLE, Dec. 1, 2021 – During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, many assisted living and senior center facilities were forced to close their doors to outside visitors to limit potential exposure to the virus. While it was a step to keep the older residents physically healthy, those with sensory impairment found the isolation created mental and emotional issues.

Peggy Nelson, of the University of Minnesota, will outline the impacts in her presentation, “COVID-19 effects on social isolation for older persons with sensory loss,” at the 181st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, which will be held from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3. The session will take place on Dec. 1 at 6:05 p.m. Eastern U.S. in the Quinault Room of the Hyatt Regency Seattle.

Nelson and her team surveyed groups of older adults from the Twin Cities community with vision loss, hearing loss, and without either condition. They asked the participants about their worries, wellbeing, and social isolation at 6 week intervals from April 2020 to July 2021. The period corresponded to strict lockdowns in Minnesota, with some restrictions easing towards the end of the study.

All three groups of adults scored lower on a patient health questionnaire after the pandemic began. Additionally, people with vision and hearing loss faced unique problems.

“People with low vision were really hit hard,” said Nelson. “Their whole mobility systems are built around public transportation and being around other people.”

Masks made conversations especially difficult for adults with hearing loss, leading them to prefer virtual options for health care visits, among other scenarios. However, the overall quieter environment during stay-at-home orders may have compensated for some of the negative effects.

While Nelson said the changes brought by the pandemic often led to a loss of independence for impaired adults, some solutions may be within reach.

“We’ll hopefully find a new hybrid world,” she said. “People with low vision can be close to other people as needed, and people with hearing loss can have remote access to clear communication when masks would prevent that.”

———————– MORE MEETING INFORMATION ———————–
USEFUL LINKS
Main meeting website: https://acousticalsociety.org/asa-meetings/
Technical program: https://eventpilotadmin.com/web/planner.php?id=ASAFALL21
Press Room: https://acoustics.org/world-wide-press-room/

WORLDWIDE PRESS ROOM
In the coming weeks, ASA’s Worldwide Press Room will be updated with additional tips on dozens of newsworthy stories and with lay language papers, which are 300 to 500 word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio and video. You can visit the site during the meeting at https://acoustics.org/world-wide-press-room/.

PRESS REGISTRATION
We will grant free registration to credentialed journalists and professional freelance journalists. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, contact AIP Media Services at media@aip.org. For urgent requests, staff at media@aip.org can also help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips, or background information.

ABOUT THE ACOUSTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world’s leading journal on acoustics), JASA Express Letters, Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics, Acoustics Today magazine, books, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. See https://acousticalsociety.org/.