Excluding traffic noise

My latest effort to avoid the constant sound of traffic and streetcar noise in my bedroom consists of wearing DeWalt DPG62-C ‘Interceptor’ Protective Safety Earmuffs over top of foam earplugs.

The earmuffs are rated for 29 decibels of sound reduction, while the earplugs are supposedly good for 32. The sound reduction doesn’t seem to be equal across the range of frequencies I can hear. Birdsong comes right through strangely unaffected, and the rumble of heavy trucks and SUVs remains perceptible, along with the clang and whoosh of streetcars. Together, the two forms of hearing protection do pretty effectively exclude traffic noise, at least when I have my window closed. Whether the whole setup will remain in place overnight is another question.

Wearing the combination is actually a bit disconcerting. There is a constant hiss in my ears, which I think is a combination of the hiss you get from hearing damage with the quiet flow of blood through my ears themselves. If I walk on pavement, each step produces a loud pounding noise. Even walking softly on a wooden floor in socks, I can hear my joints complain slightly when I put my weight on them. For some reason, wearing all this ear protection also makes me more aware of my body, from the mild ever-present pain in my left shoulder to the bodily exhaustion that characterizes the end of another frustrating and largely fruitless day.

We will see whether this combination of tools helps square the circle of a person who is always intensely irritated by traffic noise living in a thin-windowed second-floor apartment overlooking one of Toronto’s busier urban streets.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

7 thoughts on “Excluding traffic noise”

  1. The feeling of the gear and the effect of the sound filtering are disconcerting. Nevertheless, I think the 2.5 hours I’ve just spent wearing this system were very unusually productive.

    It could be the Hawthorne effect, or perhaps silence really is golden.

  2. Earplugs worn in combination with earmuffs, helmets, or communications headsets, typically provide greater protection than either device alone. However, the attenuation of the combination is not equal to the sum of the individual attenuation values (Berger, 1983), as illustrated in Figure 1. Note for example; at 1000 Hz the combination of a 26-dB plug and a 34-dB muff does not yield 60-dB overall, but rather about 41 dB. The principal reason is the bone-conduction (BC) limits to attenuation, which are also illustrated in Figure 1. The BC limits represent sound that effectively flanks or bypasses the HPD to directly stimulate the middle and inner ears of the wearer. Another limitation on the performance of dual protection is that the plug and muff interact mechanically with each other, and thus do not behave as two completely independent attenuators.

  3. Living near major traffic linked to higher risk of dementia

    An international team of researchers has found that people who live close to high-traffic roadways face a higher risk of developing dementia than those who live further away.

    The study found that people who lived within 50 metres of high-traffic roads (like Ontario’s Hwy. 401) had a seven per cent higher likelihood of developing dementia compared to those who lived more than 300 metres away from busy roads.

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