Table 11.1 shows some common sounds and the approximate sound pressure level associated with them.
Table 11.1. Decibel rating of common sounds.
Sound pressure level (dB)
Apollo lift-off, close Jet engine, 10 ft away
140 Pain threshold
Warning siren Chain saw Loud thunder
120 Discomfort threshold 115 Max under federal law
Very loud music
Loud motorcycle or lawn mower
Cockpit of light plane, heavy truck
Average street traffic
Lathe, milling machine, loud singing
Vacuum cleaner, dishwasher
Average radio, noisy restaurant
100 Very loud
90 85 80 75 70
Normal conversation, air conditioner Light traffic, average office Library, quiet office Quiet room in home, audible whisper Electric clock, faint whisper Rustle of leaves
10 Barely detectable 0 Hearing threshold
This chart may help you identify and classify sounds that you normally encounter; and if they are disturbing or otherwise unhealthy, you can avoid them or properly protect yourself from any of their adverse effects. Note that the values shown in the table are average values. Also, notice that (almost) identical sounds may come from different machines and situations. Further, individuals may differ in their tolerance of and classification of different sounds and noises. In specific situations and when determining if noise levels are acceptable under current standards, the equations in section 11.7 must be used.
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