Navigation Links
Stop that 'dam' noise: ONR and nation's engineers tackle noise at hydroelectric plants

Using research designed to protect warfighters from noise-induced hearing loss in the naval environment, the Office of Naval Research has joined the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to turn down the volume at the nation's power plants, officials announced March 26.

ONR will lend its extensive expertise in noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) to help identify noise sources and propose engineering controls at dams and hydroelectric plants nationwide as part of the interagency agreement.

"The Navy in general, and ONR in particular, is leading the curve when it comes to understanding the dangers of noise," says Kurt Yankaskas, a program manager in ONR's Warfighter Performance Department. "It's a serious problem not only in the Navy and Marine Corps, but across modern society."

The added project scope results in $14,000 in additional federal funding, bringing the total to $109,000, to evaluate and seek new controls for protecting plant workers from hearing damage sustained on the job.

Noise is a research area ONR knows all too well.

"Within ONR, we're addressing noise-induced hearing loss from all perspectivesengineering, audiology, acquisition programs, medical research and more," Yankaskas says. "The American public is starting to learn how pervasive our noise exposures are."

The Bureau of Reclamation maintains and operates 476 dams and 58 hydroelectric power plants across 17 western states. Collectively, dams like the Grand Coulee in Washington and the Hoover in Colorado produce more than 40 billion kilowatts of energy.

By its estimates, that's enough power to satisfy the needs of 9 million people for one year, offsetting the need for an equivalent 6.8 billion tons of coal or 23.5 million barrels of oil.

It's no wonder the dams have been labeled national strategic assets. But that power comes at a substantial cost.

"Of our worker's comp costs, about 20-25 percent is due to hearing loss compensation," says James Meredith, who manages safety and occupational health, security safety and law enforcement at the Bureau of Reclamation. "That amounts to $1.5 to 2 million dollars per year Dollar-wise, it's the largest single component of claims that we have."

The intense roar of the water threatens the hearing of approximately 5,300 of the organization's workers across the country, despite attempts to provide employees with personal hearing protection.

"Down near the lower elevations of the power plant, where the water is coming down through the pen stocks and coming down over the turbines, noise can range as much as 115-120 decibels, which is quite loud," Meredith says. "And [for] every five decibels, that increases by seven or eight factors of loudness."

That's louder than the sound output at an average rock concert or music venue, which is estimated to range between 110-115 decibels by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Six sites, of varying sizes, will undergo an initial round of noise surveys this spring, with additional surveys slated later this year for plants operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"In essence, we're being asked to help look into the issue of noise control to reduce noise exposures," says ONR's Yankaskas. "This is an opportunity to transition the approaches we've been developing for Sailors and Marines ONR to other federal agencies."

The Corps' infrastructure includes power-generating units and plants that provide 25 percent of the nation's hydropower capacitybut its reach expands to a host of other facility types, says Andrea Pouliot, industrial hygiene program manager.

Some 25,000 miles of commercially navigable channels, 225 lock chambers and 2,500 recreational areas fall under the Corps' charge. At one facility, the John Day Lock and Dam along the Columbia River, the Corps estimates more than 2.5 million gallons of water crashes down every second the dam operates at 100 percent water discharge capacity.

Pouliot attributes safety controls, such as covering turbine generators, to limiting personnel's exposure.

"We still do have hearing loss cases, and we are excited and interested in trying to figure out how to control the noise so that we're able to prevent them," Pouliot says.

Field measurements, including acoustic octave band and vibration analyses, will be taken at selected facilities in the Pacific Northwest and Colorado regions through May 2012: Grand Coulee, Roza, Chandler, Dalles, Detroit, Estes, Mary's Lake and Flatiron.

Following a data evaluation period this summer, ONR will propose areas for noise improvement through a range of engineering and technology controls.

Sustained exposure to high sound levels attributed to water, aircraft engines, machine shops and other areas in the naval environmentand sudden intense noises like improvised explosive devices encountered in the fieldcan all contribute to noise-induced hearing loss over time.

Through the interagency partnership, ONR officials continue their efforts to demonstrate the broad applications of naval science and technology across government and industry as well as sectors such as public health, energy and power.


Contact: Peter Vietti
Office of Naval Research

Related medicine news :

1. Valentine's Day Means Big Profits for Adam & Eve
2. Urine protein test might help diagnose kidney damage from lupus, UT Southwestern researchers find
3. Abatement Technologies Announces High-Velocity RAPTOR™ Air Movers for Water Damage Restoration Contractors
4. Responds to the National Acadamy of Sciences Report that Millions of Americans Get Sick Yearly from Contaminated Water
5. Damaged protein identified as early diagnostic biomarker for Alzheimers disease in healthy adults
6. Why BPA leached from safe plastics may damage health of female offspring
7. Cutting Off Blood Flow to Heart Cuts Damage During Heart Attack
8. Cutting Off Blood Flow to Heart Limits Damage During Heart Attack
9. Cutting Off Blood Flow Limits Damage During Heart Attack
10. Search Engine Strategies (SES) Amsterdam 2010 Conference & Expo
11. UM School of Medicine finds prenatal cocaine exposure not severely damaging to growth, learning
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... An unlikely combination ... in a way for homeless people to have a more dignified and comfortable ... initiative whereby they are repurposing plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless. ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Since its ... comprehensive solutions involving adult stem cell therapies to patients with chronic degenerative medical ... name as a Registered Trademark (RTM). , Organizations are required to hold a ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... and monitoring. Their Care Plan software creates an agreement between the practice ... care plan, including financial, scheduling, monitoring, notification, and projections. Click here ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... New patients ... without a referral for dental implants at her Mississauga, ON practice. Dr. ... experienced in the placement of dental implants. , Missing teeth can lead to ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... ThirdLove, ... Friday sale a week early, offering 40% off select bras and underwear styles, ... industry through both mobile fit technology and the latest fashion, quickly becoming the ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 Kitov Pharma ceuticals ... a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of therapeutic ... today announced the closing of its previously announced underwritten ... ), each representing 20 ordinary shares of the Company, ... ADSs and warrants were issued in a fixed combination ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Endo International plc (NASDAQ: ENDP ) (TSX: ... and CEO, will discuss corporate updates at the 27 th ... York on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 1 ... Relations, and then the link to the event. Participants should ... to visit the site and download any streaming media software ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- Developmental, commercial, and regulatory/legal strategies ... pharmaceutical products, says GBI Research . ... all play a key role in boosting the profitability ... . --> Developmental, commercial, and ... the profitability of pharmaceutical products, says GBI Research ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: