Soundproofing and Masking

To: quiet-list@igc.org
From: Ron Pellegrino <ronpell@microweb.com>
Subject: Soundproofing
Date: 4/8/98

>=== Quiet-List message from shunyata@gol.com (Jim Mack) ===

>Hello all,

>Many thanks to everyone who sent me information about
>soundproofing my bedroom. All of it was interesting and much
>of it of practical use for my current needs. Now am equipped
>with particle board, electric circular saw, silicone caulk and
>fiberglass. Maybe only this final question from me on this:
>health hazards working with fiberglass and health hazards
>after installation?

>On the huge bag that my 30 square-meter load of fiberglass
>came in it says to use a mask when working with it. The
>fiberglass itself is enclosed in thin plastic but is open at the top
>of each long strip. Any kind of mask good enough? You breath
>any of this stuff in, it gets lodged in your lungs and
>causes...cancer? something bad? Have a new baby coming
>soon.

RP - Wear a respirator when installing fiberglass. Also completely cover your body. If you happen to get some fiberglass in your skin, it sometimes takes weeks for the body to rid itself of it and it's still an open question as to whether it migrates to organs.

Outgassing of chemicals used in particle board and silicone caulk is a health hazard for adults and even worse for youngsters. HEPA air cleaners and the like are somewhat helpful in clearing the air but it´s best to avoid living with all sources of chemical outgassing; they´re a plague. They put a heavy load on the respiratory system which in turn puts a heavy load on the immune system. In a nutshell, they sap life energy.

»different natural noise generators such as rain, wind,
»waterfalls, rainforest insects, ocean breakers, etc. that are
»sold to people as relaxation aids and as a means of masking
»the sounds of the house and the world at their bedtime.

>I have "Hawaiian surf" and "babbling brook" and "midnight
>forest rain shower" on CDs that you can program to repeat all
>night long or for 60 minutes. I wouldn´t recommend them. Surf
>crashing on the shore is nice but not to sleep by because the
>sound is very irregular, the noise ebbs and flows with the
>crashes being much louder than the interims. Midnight rain
>shower has your occasional thunder and wind and also is too
>irregular for me. Babbling brook sounds like a running toilet to
>me. But, to each his own. Now using a small window air-
>conditioner on the floor next to my head when I sleep. It has a
>fan-only function that masks other sounds pretty well, but only
>up to a point, heavy dump truck engine noise comes through.

>Jim

RP - CDs of ambient music are more appropriate for daydreaming and lovemaking than for sleeping. As I mentioned in the earlier post, "The [natural noise] devices include programmable timers to switch them off after you've fallen asleep." The appropriate use of the environmental noise generators is to help one fall asleep. Once you´re sleeping, they should switch off; with experimentation you should be able to find the proper setting. Sleeping in the midst of sonic stimulation "all night long or for 60 minutes", whether it´s a natural noise generator or an air-conditioner with a fan-only function, is not a good idea. To reach the deeper, more restful and healthy levels of sleep where physical and psychological repair can take place, all sensory stimulation should be reduced as much as possible. That includes sound as well as light and movement. Just because you´re sleeping doesn´t mean that your body isn´t responding to stimulation. Raising the noise floor with a fan-only function will lead to more shallow, less restful, less healthy sleep which in the long run can lead to a host of maladies. Compared to a night of shallow sleep, it´s far better to have periods of the deepest sleep even though that sleep might be interrupted occasionally during the night.

The requirement for quiet needs to balanced with all the other requirements of a healthy environment. An anechoic chamber is very quiet but who'd want to live in one? The ultimate quiet is found in a grave or pile of ashes.

Ron Pellegrino


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