A sound level meter is a device used to measure the intensity of sound waves. Use of this device is extremely important because it ensures that all sound exposures are below the threshold of what is considered safe for human ears. For this reason, it is vital to ensure that all sound level meters used on jobs sites have been properly calibrated to assure sound wave measurements are accurate.
HEALTH ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH HIGH SOUND LEVELS
Elevated sound levels can cause serious health issues such as:
- Hearing Loss
- Heart Disease
- Sleep Disturbance
- Mental Lapses
Notably, some sounds don’t have to be heard at a particularly high level to cause these health issues. Due to the serious health issues that can be caused from exposure to high noise levels, occupational health agencies, such as OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency, state laws and local ordinances regulate levels of safe exposure.
HOW A SOUND LEVEL METER WORKS
With three major components, a microphone, a meter display and electronic circuits, a sound level meter is able to measure the intensity of a sound wave. It all starts with a sound level meter’s microphone, which contains a flexible membrane that moves when a sound wave hits. When movements hit the microphone, they are then converted into an AC electrical signal. The AC electrical signal is a precise electronic picture of sound waves. The AC electrical signals are then converted into DC by the root-mean-square (RMS) detector circuit. The RMS circuit then outputs linear voltage, which passes through a logarithmic circuit to the meter display, which then reads outs the measure of sound waves in decibels.
SOUND LEVEL METER CALIBRATION
Due to the serious health issues that can be caused from high noise levels and the frail structure of a sound level meter, it is crucial to have sound level meter calibration performed frequently. It is imperative that all measurements taken by a sound level meter are accurate and reliable to ensure safety of personnel.