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Year : 2003  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 19  |  Page : 51--58

The sound exposure of the audience at a music festival

1 Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (BAG), CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
2 Service cantonal de l'environnement et de l'énergie (SEVEN), CH - 1066, Epalinges, Switzerland
3 Swiss National Accident Insurance Organisation (Suva), CH-6002 Lucerne, Switzerland

Correspondence Address:
V Mercier
Radiation Protection Division, Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (BAG), CH-3003 Bern
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 12804212

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During the Paleo Festival in Nyon, Switzerland, which took place from 24th to 29th July 2001, ten volunteers were equipped each evening with small sound level meters which continuously monitored their sound exposure as they circulated among the various festival events. Sound levels at the mixing console and at the place where people are most heavily exposed (in front of the speakers) were measured simultaneously. In addition, a sample of 601 people from the audience were interviewed over the six days of the festival and asked their opinion of sound level and quality, as well as provide details of where in the arena they preferred to listen to the concerts, whether they used ear plugs, if they had experienced any tinnitus, and if so how long it had persisted. The individual sound exposure during a typical evening was on average 95 dB(A) although 8% of the volunteers were exposed to sound levels higher then 100 dB(A). Only 5% of the audience wore ear plugs throughout the concert while 34% used them occasionally. While some 36% of the people interviewed reported that they had experienced tinnitus after listening to loud music, the majority found both the music quality and the sound level good. The sound level limit of 100 dB(A) at the place where the people are most heavily exposed seems to be a good compromise between the public heath issue, the demands of artists and organisers, and the expectations of the public. However, considering the average sound levels to which the public are exposed during a single evening, it is recommended that ear plugs be used by concert-goers who attend more than one day of the festival.


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