Headphones etc

Subject: Headphones etc
From: KEVIN AUSTIN (KAUSTIN@vax2.concordia.ca)
Date: Sat May 29 1999 - 22:50:51 EDT

>>> This is a most unfortunate situation. How many students are you talking
>>> about? Is there administrative support to deal with this (potential)
>>> health hazard?
>>Please tell me more about the 'health hazard' of headphones - as a major
>>user (living in an unsoundproofed flat) I really should know.

Headphones are deceptive in many ways when it comes to SPL. I have seen
many people (youngsters) wearing headphones in the Montreal subway
(metro), oblivious to how loud the sounds _really_ are. (With ambiant
noise levels in places of some 80 dB, the walkman has to _really_ loud,
and frequently is.)

If they are 'open' headphones (foam ear pads), external sounds come in
relatively unattenuated. If the student doing the project would like to
have a dynamic range of (say) 50 dB, if the ambient sound level in the
lab is 55 dB (machines, movement, talking), then there wil be peak levels
of 105 dB. While a minor hazard if it is occasional, under Canadian labor
standards, exposure to about 3 minutes per day of 95 dB, is considered a
safety hazard, and ear protection is required.

This does not address the problem that the headphones only play each
channel to each ear.

We 'encourage' students not to take headphones into the studio.
Electronic (and digital) feedback is very common for first year students,
and feedback with headphones means very high levels right on the head.

A visual arts student who is doing etching with corrosive acids would work
under a fume hood: sound students should be provided similar hazard



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