When anyone is exposed to 8 hours of 85 dBA or higher each workday without proper protection hearing damage may occur. Repeated exposure to loud noise can lead to permanent tinnitus (ringing in ears) and/or hearing loss as well as create physical and psychological stress, reduce productivity, interfere with communication and concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents and injuries by making it difficult to hear warning signals. ASA/ANSI S12.3-2023: Declaration Of Product Noise Emission Values gives requirements and guidelines for how to properly and uniformly provide product noise level information to the public.
What Is ASA/ANSI S12.3?
ASA/ANSI S12.3-2023 details information on the acoustical noise emitted by machinery, equipment, and products. The term “product” in this standard denotes commercially available machinery, equipment, and other products that emit noise—including consumer products and household appliances, information technology products, industrial equipment, outdoor equipment and construction machinery, and other products. ASA/ANSI S12.3-2023 specifies the following:
- The noise emission values to be declared and the requirements for their presentation
- Product information that accompanies the declared noise emission values
- The method for determining the declared mean A-weighted sound power level, LwA,m, for a batch of machines, equipment, or products
- The method for determining the standard deviation of production for the batch, if this quantity is to be optionally declared
- The method for determining the expanded uncertainty for the declared mean A-weighted sound power level for a batch, if this quantity is to be optionally declared.
This standard does not apply to transportation vehicles (cars, motorcycles, trucks, trains, planes, unmanned aerial vehicles) or other moving equipment, but its scope may be extended to such products if relevant test codes are developed and published that apply the methods of noise emission declaration herein to such equipment and products. The declaration methods in this standard use noise emission data obtained in accordance with standards in the ANSI/ASA S12.5 series or ANSI/ASA S12.12 for determining the sound power levels of noise sources unless otherwise specified in relevant test codes.
The information in ASA/ANSI S12.3-2023 is needed by consumers, manufacturers, building and land-use planners, municipal and other governmental authorities, regulatory agencies, non-governmental agencies, and others concerned about noise in order to make informed purchasing decisions. Such information is essential for comparing the noise emitted by similar products from different manufacturers or suppliers or for assessing whether or not a product under consideration meets a specified noise limit. The availability of product noise emission information that this standard provides should lead to lower-noise products in the marketplace.
What Is the Loudest Sound?
The amplitude of the sound waves compared to the ambient air pressure dictates how loud a sound is. The loudest sound traveling through air is calculated at 194 dB, which has a pressure deviation of 101.325 kPa, which is ambient pressure at sea level, at 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit). Any sound louder than 194 dB is not technically a “sound” anymore because extra energy starts distorting the entire wave—causing something that is more a shockwave and less a soundwave. At this level, sounds do not pass through air; rather, they push the air along, producing pressurized burst (shockwaves). Basically, at 194 dB the waves are creating a complete vacuum between themselves.
Examples of Acceptable Sound Levels
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend maintaining environmental noise levels at 70 dBA and below. Here are examples of acceptable sound levels:
- 10 dBA—normal breathing
- 20 dBA—ticking watch, mosquito buzzing, leaves rustling
- 30 dBA—soft whisper, quiet library
- 40 dBA—refrigerator hum, quiet room
- 50 dBA—quiet suburb, moderate rainfall
- 60 dBA—normal conversation, clothes dryer, air conditioning
- 70 dBA—dishwasher, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, group conversation, freeway traffic
- 85 dBA—snow blowers, hand saw, noisy restaurant, police car siren, leaf blowers
Loudest Construction Equipment
The Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of Washington has produced a list of the loudest tools used in construction:
- Welding Cutting Equipment (average dBA is 94.9 and maximum dBA is 122.8)
- Other Hand Power Tool (average dBA is 95.4 and maximum dBA is 118.3)
- Hand Power Saw (average dBA is 97.2 and maximum dBA is 114.0)
- Screw Gun, Drill Motor (average dBA is 97.7 and maximum dBA is 123.7)
- Rotohammer (average dBA is 97.8 and maximum dBA is 113.5)
- Chop Saw (average dBA is 98.4 and maximum dBA is 117.7)
- Rattle Gun (average dBA is 98.4 and maximum dBA is 131.1)
- Stationary Power Tool (average dBA is 101.8 and maximum dBA is 119.8)
- Powder Actuated Tool (average dBA is 103.0 and maximum dBA is 112.8)
- Chipping Gun (average dBA is 103.0 and maximum dBA is 119.2)
Declaration of Product Noise Levels
ASA/ANSI S12.3-2023 addresses the declaration of product noise levels. The primary difference between a measurement standard and a declaration standard is that the former is concerned with measuring and reporting the noise emission level of a single unit under test, while the latter is concerned with conveying information about the noise emission levels of a batch of units, generally representing a manufacturer’s production series of a given model of a product. Although each production unit may be manufactured to the same specifications, the noise levels will generally vary from unit to unit.
ASA/ANSI S12.3-2023: Declaration Of Product Noise Emission Values is available on the ANSI Webstore.