Introduction

Humans live in a world of sound. Many sounds are quite pleasant and persons who are not hearing impaired enjoy hearing voices, music, and many sounds of nature. People often listen for sounds that could warn of danger or the malfunctioning of equipment. Individuals have differing abilities to detect sound of varying intensities and frequencies, and differ as well in their personal tolerance of and appreciation of sound.

Sound that is harsh and unpleasant (or unhealthy) commonly is referred to as noise. In recent years, the subject of noise has been given considerable attention, especially as it affects human health and behavior. The federal government, through OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), has established noise exposure limits to prevent worker hearing loss and/or psychological stress due to excessive exposure to noise. OSHA does not have enough inspectors to insure all work environments meet standards. It is up to individuals to understand the nature of sound and noise so they know when unhealthy environments may exist due to undesirable or unwanted sound.

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