Using noise control principles when evaluating the acoustic impacts of face coverings during the coronavirus pandemic



Several different combinations of face masks and shields are evaluated for their acoustic performance using a head and torso simulator (HATS).  The HATS is used as a controlled and repeatable artificial sound source using white noise in a classroom environment.  Sound pressure levels at octave band frequencies due to the face coverings are evaluated at a location of 2.0 meters from the HATS which is within the direct field to reduce the room acoustical effects.  The problem is modeled as a barrier separating a source and receiver using fundamental noise control principles.  Fabric material properties are used such as thickness, density, stiffness, and damping.  The results are compared with experimental tests.  The face shield with clear plastic barrier produces a resonance in the 1000 Hz octave band.  Analytical models of cavity resonances, standing wave resonances, or plate resonances are calculated and compared with the experimental resonance. The speech interference level is used to determine the frequency content that is most likely to cause hearing difficulties and compared with A-weighted differences between the unmasked condition and masked.