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Final Report of the Effect of Noise on Non-Auditory Sensory Functions and Performance.

Loeb M; Jones PD; Cohen A
Performance Research Laboratory, Graduate School, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, Technical Report No. ITR-76-32 1976 Feb:136 pages
An evaluation was performed to determine the effects of continuous and impact type noise on nonauditory sense functions, and on the performance of tasks dependent on those functions. The continuous noise conditions ranged from 105 to 110 decibels A and were presented for durations not exceeding NIOSH proposed limits for safe daily noise exposure; the impact sounds were 136 decibels in peak level which was below the OSHA ceiling for such types of noise exposure. In a first phase, different tests of visual, tactual, thermal, and vestibular functions were made and compared with similar tests under a low noise or control condition. Only a few visual functional measures showed significant noise induced changes of possible import and these could not be altogether replicated in a second phase designed to test for adaptation of the effects. A third phase which incorporated several of the sense functions in a simulated work task, revealed no significant differences in performance results. As an add on effort the continuous or impact noises were presented as subjects performed a dual task consisting of tracking a moving target in the middle of the visual field while responding to the onset of lights at the periphery. Through varying instructions and the frequency of peripheral light presentations, an attempt was made to influence the priority and/or bias the observer's attention to one or the other component task. The results indicated that the noise conditions impaired tracking performance but not peripheral light monitoring, bias factors. The effects of noise on the tracking task while small, could have some implication to safety. On the whole, the project's findings provided little evidence to suggest concern for nonauditory sensory losses caused by noise conditions meeting hearing conservation limits.
NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Author; Noise-levels; Noise-control; Physiology; Noise-pollution; Exposure-limits; Vision-disorders; Sensory-disorders; Task-performance; Nervous-system-disorders; Statistical-analysis; Visual-performance; Perception; Audiometry; Contract-099-73-0022;
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Performance Research Laboratory, Graduate School, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, Technical Report No. ITR-76-32
Page last reviewed: January 28, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division