Estimates of auditory risk from outdoor impulse noise II: Civilian firearms

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Estimates of auditory risk from outdoor impulse noise II: Civilian firearms

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Category: |Journal: Noise & Health (full text)|Author: A Wong, G Flamme, J Lynd, K Liebe|Year: 2009

Firearm impulses are common noise exposures in the United States. This study records, describes and analyzes impulses produced outdoors by civilian firearms with respect to the amount of auditory risk they pose to the unprotected listener under various listening conditions. Risk estimates were obtained using three contemporary damage risk criteria (DRC) including a waveform parameter-based approach (peak SPL and B-duration), an energy-based criterion (A-weighted SEL and equivalent continuous level) and a physiological model (AHAAH). Results from these DRC were converted into a number of maximum permissible unprotected exposures to facilitate interpretation. Acoustic characteristics of firearm impulses differed substantially across guns, ammunition, and microphone location. The type of gun, ammunition and the microphone location all significantly affected estimates of auditory risk from firearms. Vast differences in maximum permissible exposures were observed; the rank order of the differences varied with the source of the impulse. Unprotected exposure to firearm noise is not recommended, but people electing to fire a gun without hearing protection should be advised to minimize auditory risk through careful selection of ammunition and shooting environment. Small-caliber guns with long barrels and guns loaded with the least powerful ammunition tend to be associated with the least auditory risk.