Nonauditory Effects of Repeated Exposures to Intense Impulse Noise

  • Y. Y. Phillips
  • A. Dancer
  • D. R. Richmond
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 111)


Exposure to intense impulse noise can cause injury to all of the air containing structures of the body. While the ear is the most sensitive organ, the upper respiratory tract (URT), the lungs, and the gut can be damaged by air blast. This nonauditory injury has been studied as a consequence of weapon effects research. The development of light, long-range artillery and powerful shoulder-fired antitank weapons has increased the intensity of impulse noise to which soldiers are exposed. Hearing damage is recognized as a military occupational health hazard, and the advent of louder weapons has raised the possibility that nonauditory injury might become a limiting safety concern. Animal research was begun in Europe and the United States in an attempt to define that new hazard. Anesthetized sheep and swine were necropsied after being exposed to a variety of impulse conditions. It was readily demonstrated that with repeated exposures, nonauditory injury could build-up at relatively low overpressure levels. In these experiments, groups of six animals each were exposed to 20 blasts of equal peak pressure (P: 68 kPa) but varying positive phase impulse (I: 63, 110, 145, 184 and 222 kPa-msec). In a complementary study, groups of the same size were exposed to 20 blasts of similar I (136 kPa-msec) but variable P (26, 48, 69, 115, 126, and 262 kPa). These experiments showed that damage occurred in the URT, the gut, and lung with both increasing frequency and severity as either I was increased with constant P or as P was increased with constant I. The URT was most sensitive, with at least minor petechial hemorrhage being evident in the larynx whenever injury to the gut or lung was present. URT injury often occurred in the absence of injury to other organs. Nonauditory injury from Friedlander waves is determined by the interaction of number of exposures, P, and I. URT petechiae are the first gross evidence of injury and can be used to define limiting conditions for exposure.


Lung Injury Peak Pressure Blast Wave Impulse Noise Blast Injury 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Y. Phillips
    • 1
  • A. Dancer
    • 2
  • D. R. Richmond
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of MedicineWalter Reed Army Institute of ResearchUSA
  2. 2.Physiology GroupFranco-German InstituteSaint-LouisFrance
  3. 3.Life Sciences DivisionLos Alamos National LaboratoryLos AlamosUSA

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