Persson Waye, K. et al Low Frequency Noise “Pollution” Interferes with Performance

Kerstin Persson Waye, Johanna Bengtsson, Anders Kjellberg, Stephen Benton

To study the possible interference of low frequency noise on performance and annoyance, subjects categorised as having a high- or low sensitivity to noise in general and low frequency noise in particular worked with different performance tasks in a noise environment with predominantly low frequency content or flat frequency content (reference noise), both at a level of 40 dBA. The effects were evaluated in terms of changes in performance and subjective reactions.

The results showed that there was a larger improvement of response time over time, during work with a verbal grammatical reasoning task in the reference noise, as compared to the low frequency noise condition. The results further indicated that low frequency noise interfered with a proof-reading task by lowering the number of marks made per line read.

The subjects reported a higher degree of annoyance and impaired working capacity when working under conditions of low frequency noise. The effects were more pronounced for subjects rated as high-sensitive to noise in general.

The results suggest that the quality of work performance and perceived annoyance may be influenced by a continuous exposure to low frequency noise at commonly occurring noise levels. Subjects categorised a high-sensitive to low frequency noise may be a highest risk.

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