Though we may try to brush off the noisiness of modern life, it affects us in more ways than we realize, and Dr. Marehalli Prasad of Stevens Institute of Technology is working hard to ensure that the issue of noise control resounds above the din. Regular exposure to noise can have wide-ranging effects on the psychological and physiological health of populations. Excess noise can lead to elevated blood pressure and lost sleep, and can interfere with communications in the workplace, leading to accidents. The cost of traffic noise in the European Union alone is over 40 billion Euros per year, and the WHO Regional Office for Europe has estimated that it is harming the health of every third person. Dr. Prasad has been recognized for his contributions to efforts to mitigate these effects with his election as a Director of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering (INCE), a national professional organization that seeks to promote engineering solutions to environmental, product, machinery, industrial and other noise problems.
"This is an international public health issue with serious ramifications to large swaths of the world’s population, particularly in urban areas," says Dr. Michael Bruno, Dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science. "It is not simply an annoyance, and the efforts of Dr. Prasad and his colleagues will potentially improve quality of life for billions of people."
Noise is an important factor when evaluating quality of life in a global industrial society because of the physical and psychological effects of prolonged exposure. Sound waves produced by vibration, impact, friction, and fluid flow all lead to sustained noise in industrial settings. "There is so much noise generated by our machines of industry and conveyance, particularly in an urban setting," says Dr. Prasad. "The effect of these noises is cumulative."
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 codified the awareness of the potential harm of noise, requiring that employees in an industrial setting not be exposed to noise levels above 90 decibels (A-weighted) for an 8-hour period. However, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), "approximately thirty million workers are exposed on their job to noise levels that are potentially hazardous to their hearing." Dr. Prasad observes, "There are laws that already recognize the harm, such as requirements for automobile mufflers and laws on noise in the workplace, but there is a need for further regulation."
INCE aims to educate and raise awareness about the importance of noise control, as well as designing technologies to reduce noise. Dr. Prasad and his colleagues discuss better design and state-of-the-art strategies to control noise like mufflers, enclosures, and aural barriers. Noise control is a challenging area of research that has mobilized experts from many sub-branches of engineering, including mechanical engineering, materials engineering, and civil engineering. Additionally, the use of sound to cancel out noise incorporates electrical and control engineering, thus establishing a vastly cross-disciplinary field.
Dr. Prasad has been involved with INCE for many years, chairing several sessions at the institute’s national and international conferences. He has presented many invited and contributed papers at these conferences. Dr. prasad was the general chairman of National Conference on Noise Control Engineering in 1991 held in Tarrytown, New York. In his new role of Director, he will more widely help in overseeing the activities of the society.
INCE-USA is charged with organizing INTER-NOISE 2012, the 41st International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering, in New York City from August 19-22, 2012. Dr. Prasad, along with his doctoral student and colleagues, will be presenting papers at this year’s conference.