The influence of aging on the noise attenuation of ear-muffs

Noise Health. 2005 Jan-Mar;7(26):39-45. doi: 10.4103/1463-1741.31641.


Ear-muffs are commonly used as personal protectors against the effect of noise. The methods of calculation the A-weighted sound pressure level under the cups of ear-muffs are based on the results of laboratory measurements of noise attenuation, which are carried out in the certification process of the product on brand new samples. Hearing protectors are usually stored for certain periods of time. Next, workers use them in different ambient outdoor conditions as long as there are no signs of their physical damage. The question is. What is the influence of ambient outdoor conditions, usage and storage time of ear-muffs on their attenuation? To answer this question, a three-year study has been undertaken. Four types of ear-muffs, most popular in the Polish work environment, made in Europe, meeting the certification requirements and granted a certification mark, were used in this study. Sixty samples of ear-muffs were worn by workers at noisy workplaces, 40 samples were stored and another 40 were exposed to ambient outdoor conditions. The workers were asked to evaluate subjectively the noise attenuation of the ear-muffs. After one, two and three years time of usage and storage, the sound attenuation of ear-muffs was measured. After the two years the headband force and the cushion pressure of tested samples were measured. The results of sound attenuation measurements were used to calculate the attenuation against high- (H), medium- (M) and low- (L) frequency noise and single number rating (SNR) of the tested earmuffs. The results of the study showed that the attenuation of ear-muffs can be significantly reduced as a function of usage, storage, and exposure to ambient outdoor conditions. The observed decrease of the ear-muffs attenuation corresponded to decrease of the cushion contact area but did not correspond to the subjective workers' assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Climate
  • Ear Protective Devices*
  • Equipment Failure Analysis / methods*
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Noise, Occupational
  • Poland