The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2002 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

EVALUATION OF TRANSPORT ISOLETTE AND CABIN NOISE LEVELS IN THREE MEDICAL TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT

Steve Sittig RRT, Steven Sobzak MIS, CSP, CIH, Jeff Nesbitt BS, ASP, Joel Mashek RRT
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

Purpose: Since there are few commercially designed and developed hearing protection systems for this environment and small patient population, we set up a study to look at the noise level exposure levels to newborns and infants found in three medically configured aircraft during flight.

Equipment: 3 Quest (Type II) Noise Dosimeters Model Q-300, One hand held CEL-266 OBS (Type I) Noise Level Meter

Methods: Three Type II Dosimeters were used in each flight. One dosimeter was inside the isolette and the other two on research team members measuring noise level exposure in various points in the aircraft cabin. The CEL-266 hand held noise meter was utilized to measure real time levels in various points of the aircraft cabin and isolette during the flights.

Results: Sound levels were time weighted over the entire flight duration in dBA.

  Noise Level Isolette Noise Level Crew

BK-117

83 90

King Air B 200

78 84

Pilatus P 12

80

86

Conclusions: Even though flight times may be considered short exposure, cumulative exposure is still a factor in progressive hearing loss. There is very little literature concerning high-level noise exposure in neonates and young infants. There are numerous studies looking at ICU noise level exposure.

The measured noise levels were higher than the research team had envisioned. There was no significant increase in isolette noise levels with the door or portholes open as in doing cares/assessment in the fixed wing aircraft but a 2 dB increase was noted in the helicopter. During our testing, we attempted several engineering methods attempting to decrease the environmental noise levels without success. Exposure at such a young age cannot be harmless and needs to be addressed in this population. Recent list-serve postings show some flight programs attempt to modify commercially adult designed hearing protection devices or do nothing at all. Our research continues and we are now looking at including assessment of vibration levels and studying other medically configured aircraft and potential solutions.

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