EPA Document Collection

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About the EPA document collection held by the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse.

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Title Index: A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T U W

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A Comparison of Sound Power Levels from Portable Air Compressors Based Upon Test Methodologies Adopted by U.S. EPA and the EEC
December 1, 1980

On December 30, 1975, the United States government issued a regulation which set limits on the amount of noise emitted from portable air compressors. This regulation also specified the noise test procedure to determine the maximum sound pressure level of compressors. On Arpil 5, 1978, the Commission of the European Communities (CEC) submitted a propsed directive to the Council of the European Communities, that also would set limits on the noise emitted by portable air compressors within the European Economic Community (EEC). The proposed directive also specified the test procedure to determine the sound power emitted from a compressor. It became evident that both U.S. and European manufacturers may need to perform two separate noise tests on their compressors if they intend to meet both existing U.S. and the proposed EEC noise standards. At the request of industry, U.S. government representatives entered into discussions with representatives of the CEC in November 1975. These discussions led to an agreement between the CEC and the U.S. EPA to jointly conduct comparative noise tests of various size compressors to assess the potential for alignment of the existing U.S. and the proposed CEC test procedures. The test results presented in this report are the end product of those bilateral discussions and technical cooperation between the CEC and the EPA.

Proceedings of the International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem

In 1968, a Conference on Noise as a Public Health Hazard was organized by the American Speech and Hearing Association. At this conference, an attempt was made to bring together a group of speakers who could present summaries of the current state of knowledge ell all aspects of the "noise problem", ranging all tile way from fairly technical treatises to completely non-technical statements of personal opinion. Such a wide-ranging representation was judged to be necessary for the purpose of that conference, which was to present a broad overview of what "noise pollution" was all about, to government personnel and other intelligent laymen who saw that it was probably going to become a hot issue, and give at least a few examples of the scientific evidence underlying arguments about just what effects noise does have. At this time it was realized that as the environmentalist movement gathered momentum, a rapid development of public concern could be expected, and so a permanent Committee of ASHA was established, one of whose charges was to plan another conference when it was judged appropriate. The burgeoning of interest in noise in the intervening 5 years has clearly met, if not surpassed, our expectations at that time. In the developed areas of the world, millions of dollars or their equivalent are being spent on surveys of noise levels and exposures, and increasingly stringent noise regulations are being imposed by all levels of government. And, although the measurement of the effects of noise is nowhere near as simple as the measurement of the noises themselves, many laboratories, mostly with federal support, are engaged in full-time research on the hearing losses, sleep disturbance, speech interference, alteration of physiological state, and annoyance caused by noise. Accordingly, in 1971 we began looking for a sponsor for a second conference-one who would agree, we hoped, to fund attendance by a substantial number of researchers from abroad, so that certain areas of knowledge less intensively studied in the USA could be included in the subject matter. Fortunately, the head of the newly-created Office of Noise Abatement end Control (ONAC) of the Environmental Protection Agency, Dr. Alvin F. Meyer, had need of just such a conference, as a source material for a document summarizing all known criteria that might be used to establish national standards for noise control-that is, provided that the Congress passed the bill, then being duly debated and amended, that would make such a document necessary. Furthermore, certain PL 480 funds (money that must be spent in other countries) were available, which meant that the degree of participation by foreign scientists might be even greater than we had hoped. Not only that, but the particular PL 480 funds in this case were in Jugoslavia, the country that includes one of the garden spots of the world, Dubrovnik. On the assumption that our Congress would pass some form of the bill in question (which it did on October 27, 1972), we forged ahead with plans for our meeting, now upgraded to an International Congress. With the help of Dr. Grujica Zarkovic, the energetic President of the Jugoslavian Medical Association, and Dr. Mario Levi of the University of Sarajevo, a planning meeting was held to which we invited a representative from most of the countries in which noise research was being done (I say "most" because we could not quite afford to pay for attendees from Japan, Australia, and South Africa because of the distance involved, even though considerable research is being done there). At this meeting the formal agenda was decided on, and the list of invited participants prepared. It was agreed that we would try to limit the Congress content strictly to the effects of noise on health, thereby excluding discussions of engineering aspects of noise reduction and control, descriptions of methods for legal control, and presentation of viewpoints of special-interest groups. There was some debate about how much time to allot to public opinion surveys of annoyance, some of as contending that annoyance, as measured in that manner, is not a health hazard at all in the ordinary sense of the term. However, proponents of the WHO definition of "health", in which any deviation from "optimum well-being" is regarded as undesirable, carried the field, and the final day of the Congress was therefore given over to the sociologists. Despite a series of crises precipitated by governmental red tape originating both in Washington and Belgrade, the Congress was held on May 13-18, 1973 at the Libertas Hotel in Dubrovnik. We had two major disappointments: one was the failure of our Russian invitees to appear due to the fact that our official invitations had not been sent early enough. The other was that the Xerox machine at the Libertas was out of commission. However, the general success of the Congress can be gauged by the fact that the audience was as large on the final afternoon as at any other time. A side benefit of the Congress (or so we hope) was the formation of an international organization consisting of 5 "teams" who will try to accumulate and coordinate knowledge about the effects of noise on (1) temporary and permanent bearing loss; (2) extra auditory function; (3) speech; (4) sleep; and (5) community reaction. The parent group, or "basic" team, will attempt to consolidate this knowledge for use by governmental agencies, and will make plans for the next Congress. Although the organization is now alive, its name is still in question. At the moment it is still the "'International Scientific Noise Teams", but the resulting acronym has a negative connotation that pleases few of us. Other names are being considered. I regret that the length of the invited papers made it impracticable to publish at this time any of the short contributed papers that were presented at the Congress, many of which were excellent, or the often-lively discussions that followed each session. It is hoped that these can be included if another printing of the Proceedings is to be made. An enterprise of this scope cannot be a success without hard work on the part of many people. Without doubt the most effort of all wax put forth by Dr. Levi, who managed all the mechanical details of the Congress, with the help of his and Dr. Zarkovic's staff, particularly, Felih Vesna. Official thanks are extended to our sponsoring organizations: The Jugoslavian Medical Association, The American Speech and Hearing Association, the World Health Organization, and of course most of all the Office of Noise Abatement and Control.

Public Health and Welfare Criteria for Noise
July 27, 1973

The Noise Control Act of 1972 requires that the Administrator of The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develop and publish criteria with respect to noise. These criteria are to "reflect the scientific knowledge most useful in indicating the kind and extent of all identifiable effects of noise on the public health and welfare which may be expected from differing quantities and qualities of noise." This document meets that requirement. The terms "criteria and standards" are generally used interchangeably in the scientific communities concerned with noise and its control. However, in accordance with the intent of the U.S. Congress, criteria for environmental pollutants are to reflect an honest appraisal of available knowledge relating to health and welfare effects of pollutants, (in this case, noise). The criteria are descriptions of cause and effect relationships. Standards and regulations must take into account not only the health and welfare considerations described in the criteria, but also, as called for in the Noise Control Act of 1972, technology, and cost of control. This criteria document, therefore, serves as a basis for the establishment of tile recommended environmental noise level goals to be related to the "Effects Document" called for by Section 5(a)(2) of the Noise Control Act. That document, along with this criteria document, will become the basis for standards and regulations called for by Sections 6 and 7 of the Noise Control Act. Further, the terms "health and welfare," as used in the Noise Control Act include, as in other environmental legislation, the physical and mental well being of the human populations. The terms also include other indirect effects, such as annoyance, interference with communication, loss of value and utility of property, and effects on other living things. In preparing this Criteria Document, EPA has taken into account the vast amount of data in the general professional literature and the information contained in the "Report to the President and Congress on Noise" and its supporting documents prepared under Title IV, PL 91-604. To bring to bear the views and opinions of some of the world's leading experts on current knowledge regarding the effects of noise, EPA sponsored an International Conference on Public Health Aspects of Noise) in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia in May 1973. The proceedings of that conference have been applied to the preparation of this document. They are available, as stated in the Appendix to this document.

Summary Report on the Sixth International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem
November 1, 1994