Sound Level & Noise Ordinance Surveys for OSHA / City Ordinance Compliance


Environmental noise is a form of acoustic pollution which has the potential to disrupt human communication, create annoyance, damage hearing and is regulated by the federal OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) Noise Standard 29 CFR 1910.95 along with other state agencies.  In some cases it can also interfere with sensitive equipment such as that used in the nanotechnology and semiconductor industry.

It is also regulated in many residential areas by municipalities such as Fort Worth to provide comfort and peace to residents.

Sound Noise Level Map OSHA

Noise & Sound Level Map for OSHA

If you are receiving complaints from workers, or have been contacted by OSHA regarding a potential excessive noise issue, ScanTech can evaluate the environment for continuous (data-logging over time) and impulsive noise on the dB(A) and dB(C) scales to determine compliance. We can also fit workers with a continuous dosimeter to track sound pressure levels as they move into different work areas at different times of day. (meeting ANSI & IEC Type II standards)

8 Hour Dosimetry Extrusion Area with 90 dB OSHA Line

8 Hour Dosimetry of Extrusion Area with 90 dB OSHA Line

Our sound level meters are able to average noise at slow, (1 second per sample) fast (0.125 seconds per sample which corresponds to the response time of the human auditory system) or custom sampling rates as fast as 0.035 seconds which are used for impulsive (sudden, short) noise measurements. Impulse sounds are generally defined as acoustic events lasting less than 1 second with a repeat interval of greater than 1 second.

The data logging function also enables the measurement of reverberation which is the measurement of time it takes for the sound level to drop 60 dB or a factor of 1 million, and characterizes how “reflective” a room is to acoustic vibrations.

Sound Level Decay Graph

Sound Level Decay Graph


In general, interference with speech communication occurs when intrusive noise exceeds about 60 dB (Federal Interagency Committee On Noise 1992). Indoor speech interference can be expressed as a percentage of sentence intelligibility among two people speaking in relaxed conversation approximately 3 feet apart in a typical living room or bedroom (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1972).

The percentage of sentence intelligibility is a non-linear function of the (steady) indoor background A-weighted sound level. Such a curve-fit yields 100 percent sentence intelligibility for background levels below 57 dB and yields less than 10 percent intelligibility for background levels above 73 dB. The function is especially sensitive to changes in sound level between 65 dB and 75 dB.

As an example of the sensitivity, a 1 dB increase in background sound level from 70 dB to 71 dB yields a 14 percent decrease in sentence intelligibility. The sensitivity of speech interference to noise at 65 dB and above is consistent with the criterion of DNL 65 dB generally taken from the Schultz curve. This is consistent with the observation that speech interference is the primary cause of annoyance.

Typically, homes in the United States provide 15 dB of sound attenuation with windows open and 25 dB with windows closed and air conditioning operating.

Some guidelines on judging sleep interference. The EPA identified an indoor DNL (Day-Night Average Sound Level)  of 45 dB as necessary to protect against sleep interference (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1978). Assuming a very conservative structural noise insulation of 20 dB for typical dwelling units, this corresponds to an outdoor day-night average sound level of 65 dB to minimize sleep interference.

ScanTech Technical Consulting also has experience in doing “on-paper” studies for environmental impact and Environmental Survey Assessments (ESA) including the DNL influence of major roadways, railways, airports, etc. including the CEQR noise level standards of New York City.


Speed of Sound Variations

                                                    Speed of Sound Variations by Altitude / Temperature



Sound & Noise Decibel Level Comparison Chart

OSHA Extended Shifts Decibel Limits

Hearing Test Website

TWA Sound Dose Calculator for OSHA NIOSCH ACGIH

REW Software – Room EQ 1/3 Octave

2 Responses

  1. A. J. Steinberg says:

    I know you no longer offer residential services, but can you point me in the direction of a local (Dallas) company that measures sound decibels for a noise complaint…any help will be greatly appreciated…thanks!

  2. EMF Testing Indoor Air Quality Consultant says:

    Mr. Steinberg,

    There are very few companies in this region who even offer noise / decibel / sound level measurement and consultation for commercial and industrial clients, so I have no direct referrals to offer.

    You might try talking either to some civil engineering firms and / or whomever does noise level enforcement for your municipality.

    JAG of ScanTech

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