Everything You Need to Know about Noise Pollution

How to limit the noise propagation (not only in Oil and Gas). Risks and countermeasures of a phenomenon as important as universally underrated.

The noise pollution’s matter has become a well-documented public domain anthology by now.

The World Health Organisation has reported that 40% of Europe’s population is exposed to noise levels in excess of 55dB. Moreover, noise pollution is ranked as second to air pollution, in terms of affecting our health and wellbeing, including diabetes, tinnitus and risk of heart disease.

Noise pollution in Oil and Gas

According to recent study achieved by PSE Healthy Energy and West Virginia University, some modern Oil and Gas techniques – such hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) – produce noise that may increase adverse effects on human health. 

A fracking well in Colorado, pictured in 2012

Fracking can create noise at levels high enough to harm the health of people living nearby (source phys.org). “Oil and gas operations produce a complex symphony of noise types, including intermittent and continuous sounds and varying intensities,” argued PSE Healthy Energy Executive Director Seth Shonkoff.

A adequate set of policies should be specified, in order to safeguard residents and communities, such particularly vulnerable populations (e.g. schools and hospitals). Noise mitigation techniques like perimeter sound walls, noise barriers and acoustic enclosures could represent the most appropriate solutions to hold back this phenomenon.

Noise impact on marine species

This is not all. A recent study led by International Fund for Animal Welfare, reveals the damaging impact of Oil

Noise pollution can damage marine species

and Gas noise pollution on whales and dolphins. In the report, they put in evidence how new technologies should reduce their impact on marine environment during the exploration phase (source: International Fund for Animal Welfare).

 

Noise and Diseases

Numerous epidemiological studies have linked noise to adverse health outcomes too. They include diabetes, depression, birth complications and cognitive impairment in children.

In facts, apart from damage to hearing, exposure to excessive and constant noise can cause other health problems including:

  • Headache
  • Sleep and heart disease
  • Stress
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Digestive disorders
  • Increased susceptibility to colds and other minor infections

Noise in Europe: limits and human tolerance

As we know, the loudness of noise is measured in decibels. Sensitivity to noise differs from one individual to the next, but experts believe that damage to hearing occurs when noise levels are higher than 85 decibels, which is about the loudness of heavy traffic.

Every year, 7 million people in Europe die from heart disease, that would put the toll from exposure to noise at around 210,000 deaths. In England heart disease kills 110,000 people annually, so the deaths linked to noise could be around 3,300.

2% of Europeans suffer severely disturbed sleep because of noise pollution. The researchers calculate that chronic exposure to loud traffic noise causes three per cent of all cases of tinnitus, in which sufferers hear constant noise. Length of exposure is important too. In facts, it is not recommendable to listen to noises of 109 decibels for any longer than two minutes in row.

Noise and public health in U.S.

In US the noise phenomena has been studied deeply, causing a direct response by public healthThe Health Impacts Project (HIP) provides since 2013 guidance for policy makers to identify the health consequences of potential projects by making public a national sample of health impact assessment.

Exposure Limits in U.S.

The U.S. EPA recommends an average 24-hr exposure limit of 55 A-weighted decibels (dBA) to protect the public from all adverse effects on health and welfare in residential areas. This limit is a day–night 24-hr average noise level (LDN), with a 10-dBA penalty applied to nighttime levels between 2200 and 0700 hours to account for sleep disruption and no penalty applied to daytime levels.

More info about the Noise sources and Soundproofing solutions in industrial sector can be found here.

 

 

How to Provide an Efficient Noise Propagation Control’s Infrastructure (ISO 11690-2)

The need for the companies to adopt a solid noise control policy has been widely covered in a recent article.

Regarding the control of the noise during its propagation – from the source to the receiver (generally the worker) – some or all of the following actions need to be considered meticulously, in order to set-up the most appropriate infrastructure within the plant:

  • Use of vent silencers (for valves and tanks), designed to reduce noise level of exhaust piping to the atmosphere for pressurized gaseous fluids.
  • Use of acoustic barriers (single walls), partial enclosures or full enclosure of the entire item of equipment.
  • Use of enclosures for noisy components on a machine.
  • Use of reactive or dissipative mufflers; the former for low frequency noise or small exhausts, the latter for high frequencies or large diameter exhaust outlets.
  • Use of in-line plenum chambers or lined ducts for air handling systems
  • Reverberation control – the addition of sound absorbing material to reverberant spaces to reduce reflected noise fields. Note that care should be taken when deciding upon this form of noise control, as direct sound arriving at the receiver will not be affected. Experience shows that it is extremely unusual to achieve noise reductions in excess of 3 or 4 dB(A) using this form of control which can be exorbitantly expensive when large spaces or factories are involved. In flat rooms the spatial sound distribution is of interest, see ISO 11690-1,-2.
  • Active noise control, which involves reflection, suppression or absorption of the noise radiated by an existing sound source by use of one or more secondary or control sources.

The commitment starts with a detailed analysis in order to ensure proper noise control measures for the facility design process. Three necessary steps in raw are accurately executed:

  • Field assessments Interpretation
  • Risks Mitigation
  • Reduction of noise control’s costs

All the analysis performed on noise and vibration problems are accomplished taking in account of noise control optimization’ costs, risk management from facility noise, complaints and regulatory compliance challenges.

The fully customized solutions realized by Stopson Italiana cover Oil and Gas, Power Generation, Marine and other industriesThe long-time maintenance assessments and long-term monitoring services are adopted to ensure full compliance over time.

Stopson Italiana is one of the Italian leading provider of innovative sound control solutions, noise impact model design and prediction.

In order to expand its staff, Stopson has recently open five new job positions in the following areas: Design Engineering, Project Engineering, Sales Engineer, and Quality Assurance-Control (QA-QC).
See more on Stopson Italiana CAREER Section.