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18 April 2016

When talking about sound and the effects of sound, it is incredibly important and useful to take into account the decibel scale. However the decibel scale can often be misunderstood and can be one of the more confusing aspects when talking about sound and its effects on humans.

Decibels are units that are the primary method used for expressing the power of a sound and the ratio between its power and intensity. For example, the average sound level of a whisper is at 40 decibels, while the sound of a gunshot is around 130.

As such, decibel levels are incredibly important when measuring noise safety. This is because humans can only be exposed to differing levels of sound for specific periods of time, without risking temporary or permanent ear damage. For example, the safe limit for being directly exposed without protection to 90db (the sound of a lawnmower or motorcycle) is around 2 hours, while the safe limit for being exposed to 140db (aircraft engines) is less than 1 minute. In addition, sounds over 120db surpasses the human pain threshold.

As such, this is why environments with high levels of noise, such as aircraft hangars, nightclubs and shooting ranges should make use of soundproofing in order to protect neighbouring rooms/buildings.

Decibel levels are also useful for measuring how much sound comfort a room provides. In order to maintain a comfortable atmosphere, the sound levels within rooms, particularly those for residential purposes, should not go over a certain level. For example, living rooms should not go over 35 db.

Soundproofing and sound absorption products can be used to reach these levels. For example, our range of solutions feature exceptional sound reduction ratings. Certain parts of residential properties should have a minimum sound insulation level, as set out by Part E of the Building Regulations (such as walls should have a minimum sound insulation level of 45db).

Due to these factors, overall the decibel scale is an incredibly useful tool, both in the field of construction/soundproofing, and also in everyday life. It is essential that projects take acoustics into account and measure the DB level of the rooms they are working on.


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