This investigation was undertaken primarily to examine the possibility of hearing damage from industrial ultrasonic equipment. In the factory concerned, ultrasonic washers and drills were used at a number of different locations, and girls working 12 ft (3·6 m.) away from one bank of three small washers complained of unpleasant subjective effects which included fatigue, persistent headaches, nausea, and tinnitus.
As personnel working in the vicinity of similar washers in other parts of the factory did not complain of these effects, it seemed possible that the noise had been transmitted along a column of air in a bank of dryboxes. Enclosure of these washers by a sliding screen of Perspex had completely abated the trouble.
Sound pressure level measurements taken in the positions occupied by the operators indicated that, when the effects occur, they are probably caused by high sound levels at the upper audio-frequencies present with the ultrasonic noise, and this was supported by a limited laboratory investigation. Audiometric investigation showed that hearing damage due to noise from these industrial ultrasonic devices is unlikely. However, extrapolations of currently accepted hearing damage risk criteria may be valid in predicting the occurrence of these subjective effects.
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