Impacts of Leisure Activity Noise Levels A Revised Case Study


  • Claire C. Drummond
  • Brian W. Connolly
  • Jimin Lee
  • Donna Parsons
  • Steve Patch
  • Robert DeWitt Yearout University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA)



An article originally published in the International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics in 1991 discussed the effects of damaging noise levels exposed during the leisure time of industrial workers. With a noise level change preferences, this study was designed to work in collaboration with a 2013 study (Claire Drummond, 2013) which began the groundwork of measuring and examining the consistency of the data collected in 1990. Attributed to an increase in popularity of electronic music and improved digital sound equipment, indoor leisure environment sound levels have increased since the original study. The purpose of this study is to expand the collection of data on exposure levels in current leisure activities reported in the 2012 study to enhance the statistical significance that levels are indeed higher than the noise level preferences and tolerances specified by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and International Standards Organization (ISO) guidelines. With strenuous legal standards, industries have taken substantial steps to follow the OSHA and ISO recommended guidelines; however, places of leisure such as bars, movie theaters, churches, and sporting events are not required to adhere to the same standards. The noise data was collected using a Quest SPL (2800) calibrated dosimeter. This device is a great improvement from the GenRad Sound Level Meter originally used in the 1990 study for the fact that the Quest SPL (2800) gives a complete printout at the end of a data run that takes in account the duration and average dose of noise exposure run as well as average and peak noise levels. The GenRad device was limited to measuring low and high noise level readings. Average leisure noise levels by category were as follows: peak levels in a sample of thirty-nine leisure activities: churches and concerts (118.06 dB (σ = 2.62 dB)), bars (117.48 dB (σ = 9.32 dB)), and sporting events (122.99 dB (σ = 10.97 dB)). Following the OSHA and ISO standards, any exposure noise level over 115.00dB exceeds the recommended allowance. Adult industrial workers exposing themselves to these levels after an eight hour workday in an OSHA-controlled environment are exceeding the allowable exposure. Industrial business are spending large sums of money to make sure they are in compliance with OSHA standards yet their employees are potentially permanently damaging hearing due to their choice of leisure activity. These individuals are thus increasing their risk of a permanent threshold shift. As a side observation to the adult exposures, many parents had their children under the age of 4 in attendance at the high level peak level leisure activities. Hearing is fully developed at birth, but extended exposure times to high peak noise levels can cause an earlier permanent threshold shift in children or permanent hearing loss at a younger age.

Author Biography

Robert DeWitt Yearout, University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNCA)

Professor Industrial Engineering Management

LTC Speciial Forces US Army (Retired)


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How to Cite

Drummond, C. C., Connolly, B. W., Lee, J., Parsons, D., Patch, S., & Yearout, R. D. (2014). Impacts of Leisure Activity Noise Levels A Revised Case Study. Industrial and Systems Engineering Review, 2(1), 36-41.

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