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Noise evaluation of elementary and high school music classes and indoor marching band rehearsals - Alabama
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  • Description:
    On July 1, 2011, NIOSH received an health hazard evaluation (HHE) request from an employee at a high school in Alabama concerned about noise exposures, especially during marching band rehearsal. On November 1-2, 2011, NIOSH investigators evaluated the band director's exposures to noise during a typical work day in the band room and during marching band rehearsal in the cafeteria. We took personal noise exposure measurements on the band director during marching band rehearsal in the cafeteria on November 1, 2011 and during the entire school day on November 2, 2011. We also took area noise measurements and performed octave band frequency spectrum analyses. We measured the dimensions of the band room and cafeteria and calculated reverberation times for these areas. The band director's full-shift TWA noise exposure reached the OSHA AL and exceeded the NIOSH REL of 85 dBA. It did not exceed the OSHA PEL. Marching band rehearsal produced the highest noise exposures, reaching 110 dBA. The TWA for marching band rehearsal in the band room was 2 dBA higher than rehearsal in the cafeteria. Octave band analysis during marching band rehearsal showed that the highest noise levels of 99 dB occurred at 125 Hz and were greater in the band room compared to the cafeteria. Room reverberation times ranged from 0.5 to 0.8 seconds in the band room and 0.7 to 1.0 seconds in the cafeteria. These reverberation times fell within ranges recommended in other studies. Because of the high noise levels produced during marching band rehearsals, an area acoustically designed for musical performance should be used. Until such a space is available, marching band rehearsals should occur outside when possible or in larger indoor spaces, preferably areas that contain sound absorbent materials. The band director should use flat attenuation hearing protection (musician earplugs). Because noise exposures reached the OSHA AL and exceeded the NIOSH REL, a hearing conservation program is necessary. The band director and future music teachers should have yearly audiometric evaluations in accordance with the OSHA standard and NIOSH recommendations. Teachers, students, and their parents who are involved with music, especially marching band, should be educated on NIHL symptoms and prevention.

    NIOSHTIC No. 20040743

    Recommended citation for this report: NIOSH [2012]. Health hazard evaluation report: noise evaluation of elementary and high school music classes and indoor marching band rehearsals – Alabama. By Chen L, Brueck SE. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH HETA No. 2011-0129-3160.

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