The ability to speak and to hear are important factors in our personal lives and in our environment. Activities such as making music, sound recording and reproduction, telephony, architectural acoustics, and noise control also have strong associations with our sensation of hearing, and require an understanding of the principles and effects of sound. Unwanted sound in the environment is perceived as a nuisance and can cause emotional effects such as annoyance, irritation, and sleep disturbance. The main sources of environmental noise issues are transportation noise, industrial noise, construction noise, and noise from leisure and entertainment. The measurement of noise exposure is an important step towards protecting people from hearing damage and in creating satisfactory environments for our living. Good practice in the design of buildings and the construction of buildings therefore involves a consideration of sound in the environment. Common topics of concern are the reduction of noise at source, the exclusion of external noise, the reduction of sound passing between rooms and the quality of sound inside rooms. Before these topics are studied in other chapters, this chapter describes certain properties of sound, its measurement, and its effects on hearing.
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