27 May 2009

It's Salsa at the Rec Center

Which means it's "blast your eardrums and vibrate your chest" night.

Those of you who hang out in the unfiction chat room with me know the bane of my Wednesday nights, the LOUD salsa music. Apparently the DJ thinks that the only way for dancers to enjoy it requires the music to be VERY LOUD. Yet most nights there aren't many dancing (especially the first hour or two). Many of us have complained to the Rec Center desk to no avail. I even emailed the OIC (Officer in Charge) of the MWR (Morale, Welfare, Recreation) and got "We'll look into it" (regarding the DJ starting the music too early and keeping it too loud - so far the only change has been the DJ not starting early anymore).

At first I would just wear ear plugs and suffer. When I got wifi access in my room I would just stay there on Wednesday nights. And then I started thinking about hearing safety (afterall, we are required to wear hearing protection on the flight line, we shouldn't have to need it when off duty). So I contacted Bio-Environmental Health (conveniently a part of our Med Group). According to the regulation, recreational noise should not exceed 98 decibels over 2 hours.

Tonight I'm sitting here, ear plus and head phones as protection, wearing a decible measuring device. Red box clipped to my waistband, and the microphone clipped to my shirt collar near my ear.

Two hours of this. Ugh! But it's for a good cause, just wish I had thought to investigate this earlier in the year. But if it helps people in the next rotation to save their hearing, it will be worth it.

So it's been 90 min since the music started. No one is dancing tonight.

Edit: a little after 10p there was one couple that danced during one song. The DJ increased the volume when they showed up on the dance floor. Now they are done and no one is dancing again, but the music is still deafening.

EDIT (results):
Background: AFOSH Standard 48-20, Occupational Noise and Hearing Conservation Program, recommends that, for patrons, recreational music levels “should not exceed an equivalent continuous level, Leq, of 94 dB(A) [decibels, A-weighted] for any continuous 2-hour period,” assuming two hours of exposure once per week. Occupational exposures above 85 dB(A) Because exposure is not occupationally related and event attendance is the choice of the patrons, who can move to less noisy areas or leave to avoid exposure, “occupational noise exposure standards cannot be directly applied to recreational exposures.” Therefore, “94 dB(A) is a guideline and does not constitute a never to be exceeded sound level.”

Health Risk Assessment: As a patron of the MWR Recreation Center in H6 housing, you expressed concerns about noise levels during the salsa night activities held on Wednesday evenings at 2030; and on 25 May 2009, you attended the salsa night activity while wearing a noise dosimeter (calibrated in-house prior to use) that was programmed to log noise levels from 2030 to 2230. The noise dosimetry showed a 2-hr average noise level (Leq,2hr) of 83.4 dB(A). This is well below the 94 dB(A) recommendation. Some levels (logged as 1-minute average levels) were above the 85 dB(A) ‘hazard level’: 20 of 113 minutes logged were over 85 dB(A), of which the highest 1-minute average level was only 90.9 dB(A).

Conclusion: Brief periods of noise exceeding the 85 dB(A) were observed during the salsa night activity on 25 May; however, the average level over the two hour exposure period was well below the recommended limit for recreational music exposure. No action is required at this time.


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