Date of Award

12-31-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Safety and Health Engineering - (M.S.)

Department

Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

First Advisor

Arijit K. Sengupta

Second Advisor

Athanassios K. Bladikas

Third Advisor

Samuel Lieber

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess noise exposure and its auditory and non-auditory effects on workers in five clinical departments in the School of Dental Medicine at Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences Campus in Newark, New Jersey. The study included environmental noise level measurement, dental instrument sound level measurement, personal noise dosimetry and a questionnaire survey to assess non-auditory effects. Octave band analysis of environmental noise levels showed that they are slightly above the standard noise criteria for clinics, and measurements from six dental instruments confirm that they contribute higher sound pressure levels at the frequencies of 1000, 2000, 4000, and 8000 Hertz explaining why instrument noise is annoying to dental professionals. Higher frequencies can be an annoyance factor even if they do not exceed the permissible exposure limit of 85 dBA. Noise dosimeters worn by 18 volunteer participants from five departments showed that eight-hour time weighted average of occupational noise exposures were less than 85 decibels (dBA), the limit for mandatory occupational noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) protection. Pediatric dentistry resulted in the highest decibels at 75.1 dBA and General Practice resulted in the lowest levels of 68.7 dBA. The analysis of questionnaire responses (n=18) revealed 44% of participants reported the noise to be annoying, 28% reported productivity was affected, 61% reported difficulty with communication, 39% reported trouble concentrating, 6% reported contribution to an accident, 22% reported ringing in their ears, and 11% reported the noise affected their sleep quality. This study confirms that in spite of occupational exposure to dental noise being within acceptable standards, dental workers are concerned with the quality of occupational noise they ae being exposed to.

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