Noise Exposures: Assessing an NCAA Basketball Arena on Game Day
- Gary A. Morris (Murray State University) | Bassam H. Atieh (Murray State University) | Randal J. Keller (Murray State University)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- August 2013
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 35 - 37
- 2013. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 35 since 2007
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NCAA Division 1 men’s basket-ball is a major collegiate sport with more than 330 teams nationwide. Approximately 25 million people attend games each year, with an average attendance of 5,000 spectators per game (NCAA, 2012). In addition to spectators, many event support staff are employed, such as public safety employees, concessionaires, media personnel, university officials, coaches and referees.
Despite the popularity of college basketball and the large numbers of spectators and employees who attend these events, few published reports address noise levels in college basketball arenas. A report by Shepherd, Hambric, Evans, et al. (2011), estimates the noise potential in 10 college basketball arenas selected by asking announcers and journalists which arenas they perceived to be the loudest. The report suggests that factors other than seating capacity, including seating geometries, materials and reverberant contributions, all play an important role in contributing to noise levels.
Decibel levels have been estimated in some major collegiate basketball arenas to be as high as 118 dBA (University of New Mexico, 2012). In an environment where noise is generated by avid spectators, bands and public address systems, the potential for overexposure to noise exists. Yet, noise dose estimates have not been determined for attendees at these events.
Noise exposures at other athletic events have been the subject of several publications. Engard, Sandfort, Gotshall, et al. (2010), studied noise exposure at three football stadiums and reported measurements that exceeded OSHA’s action level of 85 dB that would require enrollment in a hearing conservation program. Rose, Ebert, Prazma, et al. (2008), report a range of sound pressure levels from 96.5 to 109 dBA at stock car racing events, an exposure that the authors speculate could cause a temporary threshold shift. A significant deterioration of postmatch hearing thresholds was reported by Swanepoel and Hall (2010) for spectators following a Fédération Internationale de Football Association World Cup soccer match, where sound pressure levels average 131 dBA.
Although many exposures reported at athletic events are below the OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) and cause only temporary hearing impairment, the effects of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) are potentially serious. As Kujawa and Liberman (2009) report, the acoustic overexposures causing moderate threshold elevation have "progressive consequences that are considerably more wide-spread than are revealed by conventional threshold testing" due to nerve degeneration. Therefore, spectators and employees at events such as NCAA basketball games are at an increased risk for NIHL.
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