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Various scales and methods for rating community noise and its contributing sources are described. These have been derived from considerations relating the physical properties of sound to human auditory response. Particularly important are the frequency response and temporal response characteristics of human hearing. Community noise descriptors in five categories are evaluated in terms of application and complexity. Time integral measures, such as sound exposure level (SEL), also called single event noise exposure level (SENEL) are discussed, as well as time averaging methods such as equivalent continuous sound level (Leq) and some of its derivatives, such as day-night average sound level (Ldn) and community noise equivalent level (CNEL). A general evaluation is given of the utility of these descriptors for measuring community noise from various sources. It is noted that although researchers have proposed various corrections to A-weighted sound level for sounds with tonal, impulsive, and time-varying properties, there is no unanimity as to the general applicability of these corrections.
noise measures, noise descriptors, community noise
Supervisory physicist, Naval Ocean Systems Center, San Diego, Calif.