The Return of the Noise: How We Should Safely Adjust To “Normal” Sound Levels

Over the past year, one thing has been abundantly clear: life has never been quieter. Cities, usually the most egregious offenders of noise pollution, grinded to a halt. Gatherings both inside and outside the home either were reduced by capacity or did not take place at all. Concerts became nonexistent and sports games played on, but without spectators. Despite limited fan attendance in most places, the crowd, either in-person or on television, does not have the same buzz that it did before the pandemic. Teams have had to pump in artificial crowd noise just to emulate any type of normal game day experience, with mixed results. Even if your occupation revolves around sound (or measuring sound) and has continued through the pandemic, there has likely never been a greater contrast between the noise experienced during your job, and the lack of noise outside of it.

So, how much did the pandemic affect noise pollution? A study undertaken by Apple and the University of Michigan found that in four states (California, Florida, New York, and Texas), the average sound exposure measured by A-weighted decibels (dBA) decreased from 73.2 dBA to 70.6 dBA. This may not seem like a lot, but a 3 dBA reduction represents a halving of sound energy (and therefore, a halving of the amount of the energy participants were exposed to). In a normal environment pre-pandemic, lower exposures would take place during the week (specifically Monday) and the highest would take place on Saturdays. With the contrast of the quieter working week and the more socially active weekend, these numbers are to be expected. During lockdown, 99% of the study’s participants registered a decrease in time spent above 75 dBA between Friday and Sunday, and the increase between Monday and Saturday decreased by 1.1 dBA. This means that the levels between the weekdays and the weekends were more consistent, influenced by factors such as not going to work on a regular basis and not attending events with big crowds. Rather, it was more of the same, silence amid uncertainty.

Now, with vaccinations picking up, and more restrictions being lifted, there is a chance we could see noise levels quickly rise to pre-pandemic levels. The numbers in the study indicated a halving of sound energy from 73.2 to 70.6 dBA during the lockdown period. A 3 dBA reduction in average sound levels over 70 dBA is associated with a lower risk of noise-induced hearing loss and could have a positive impact on sound-related health impacts such as ischemic heart disease, hypertension, and cognitive performance. With the return to normal, there is the possibility that your life will again be affected by external factors that are both outside of your control and can have a negative effect on your health. One thing that you can do as you transition back to normal is to try to limit your exposure to these external factors as best as you can.

For example, the average volume during an NFL game is estimated to be in the mid-90 decibel range, which emits about the same sound level as an active power tool. In some stadiums, this number could be 20 or 30 decibels higher. Over time, sounds that are louder than 85 decibels can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. This loss can hasten if you are exposed to that level of sound for a longer, more repetitive amount of time. So instead of watching every game at the packed stadium, you can split watching games between there, a bar, or your home. A bar or your home environment can still be louder than normal, but it creates a more manageable situation than a stadium, which is filled with 70,000+ people that you cannot control. Another thing you can do is limit your exposure by wearing protective equipment, such as earplugs. At first thought, you might think that by wearing earplugs to a concert, music festival, or sports games, you will not hear anything and will be completely taken out of the experience. That is not true, as there are many earplugs on the market that filter sound to a normal level instead of fully blocking it out.

The most efficient way of measuring sound is through a portable sound level meter. Bomark sells models of sound level meters by TSI Quest that accurately measure noise levels in highly variable environments, including the SoundPro SE-DL Series, the Sound Examiner SE-400 Series, and Sound Detector SD-200. These types of instruments have many applications, including environmental noise assessments and general acoustic analysis. While you might think that there is more application for these instruments in a professional or industrial environment than a personal one, that is not true. As indicated in this blog, there are many ways that noise pollution and sounds ingratiate themselves into our lives, and many times, it comes from influences outside of personal control. Knowing when an area is loud or disruptive enough to do damage to your health can help you take preventative measures that will give you the ability to control the situation. Continue to take steps to stay safe.

Why Is It Important to Regularly Calibrate Gas Detectors?

In the gas detection industry, caring for the instruments you use on a regular basis is important. A gas detector is not working to its full potential unless it is calibrated to the correct measurements and can detect gases with precision. Not having a calibrated instrument can lead to a multitude of problems for you, your business, or operation that can easily be fixed or avoided. Here, we will explain the reasons why calibrations are important to conduct on your instruments on a regular basis.

Safety-The safety of life and property is the number one reason why gas instruments should be calibrated regularly. Gas detectors monitor for toxic gases and combustible atmospheres that are odorless and invisible to humans. If your company is working with these dangerous gases and chemicals, there needs to be a reliable method to detect for any warnings or signs of danger. If the instrument is not showing correct measurements, this could lead to lapses in judgment that snowball into completely catastrophic situations. Exposure, damage, and loss of life are only some of the consequences that can result from instruments that are not calibrated.

Wear and Tear-Like any other tool or instrument, gas detectors and their components wear down over time. Many variables can cause the instrument to waver from its original or accurate calibration. The sensors inside the instruments will chemically degrade over time as they are used, and even more so if they are exposed to high concentrations of the target gases and vapors. Environmental factors, such as humidity, high and low temperatures, and weather conditions take a toll. Even dropping the instrument once or jostling it enough to cause vibration or shock can throw off the calibration. It is important to understand all the factors that can cause calibration drift. Even if the instrument appears adequately presentable on the outside, there could be problems on the inside that are only detectable if the instrument is opened or serviced.

Liability-For documentation and legal purposes, calibration should also be a regular and consistent routine. When calibrating the instrument, documentation of some sort, whether on a spreadsheet or certificate, should be made in order to track the characteristics of the instrument. When one goes back to look at the overall history of an instrument, they should be able to see when the instrument was calibrated and serviced, and the issues that arose in those instances that required correction. In the legal system, values that are tracked by gas detection instruments will only be considered reliable if the instrument is calibrated and working to its full potential. Keeping track of calibrations and recording them regularly is the correct way to protect yourself should any liability or safety issues arise.

So how often should you calibrate your gas detector? That is a wide-ranging question that depends on a variety of factors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends doing calibrations before each use. However, if the schedule of use is irregular, there should be additional calibrations and checks in between uses to make sure the instrument remains in working order. The International Safety Equipment Association (IESA) recommends doing a bump test, a qualitative test that confirms that gas can get to the sensor(s) and that all the present alarms are functional, before each use. However, bump tests do not test for the accuracy level of gas present, so it is also important to conduct a full calibration if anything about the bump test is awry. We at Bomark recommend, at the very least, a monthly calibration of any of the instruments that we sell, including those from RKI, TSI, and Honeywell. This ensures that inside and outside issues can be checked, and the instrument maintains a constant record of care and service.

 

We have been repairing and calibrating gas detectors and environmental equipment for over 25 years. Contact us or fill out a service form if you have any questions about calibrations, or need help with a calibration or repair.

Explaining the Importance (and Accuracy) of CO2 Detection

As we return to some sense of what many consider normalcy, we have had to adapt our thinking and keep an open mind in order to make people feel safe. Vaccines do exist and production is ramping up on them, but the virus that causes COVID-19 still exists as well and will continue to exist for some time. Until that day comes, and the virus is considered eradicated, we must find a way to balance between complete societal shutdown and irresponsible, shortsighted gathering. A compromise between economic prosperity and sensible safety measures is attainable.

Gathering in indoor spaces has been considered a risky activity during the pandemic. Restaurants, bars, and gyms have taken the biggest hit, losing business both from closures and then restrictions in capacity. Some areas have had the luxury of expanding or fully transitioning into outdoor dining, which is considered safer and less likely to cause transmission, as air circulates freely. However, in areas such as New York and New Jersey, it has been tougher to do this full heel turn because of the colder climate. The challenge for businesses who either do not have the space to enlarge their outdoor footprint or the weather to rely on outdoor completely is ensuring an indoor space with enough ventilation from the interior or exterior to keep the risk of contracting COVID-19 through airborne droplets low.

This is where CO2 detection comes in. The pandemic has led to a boom in people monitoring the amount of carbon dioxide in spaces. Because we exhale carbon dioxide when we breathe, the idea is to monitor CO2 in the air in order to determine how clean the air is in the space, and thus the likelihood that COVID-19 or other airborne pathogens could be lurking there. The “normal” level of CO2 is anywhere around 415 ppm, and any level higher than that demands a heightened sense of attention. There are several variables to consider when monitoring the CO2 level. The number of people in the room, when larger, will likely lead to a higher CO2 level. If patrons are socially distanced and the ventilation is adequate, then there is likely no cause for concern if the level is somewhere in the 700-1000 ppm range. If the level reaches higher than 1000 ppm, however, there is probably an imbalance in one of the two. The “rebreathe fraction,” the amount of air in a space someone breathes in from another person, can be around 1% at 800 ppm. Since it does not take a large particle to breathe in the virus that causes COVID-19, this could potentially be dangerous based on the variables of the space. And of course, the CO2 monitor has no ability to measure for COVID-19 or any other virus, just the risk level that is represented by the ppm. So even if the ppm of the space is the normal 415 ppm level, you could still be at risk for COVID-19 even with the precautions taken.

The calibration of the instrument is a factor in the accuracy. Bomark sells several instruments, both mounted and portable, that can help you or your business achieve CO2 monitoring. The TSI Quest EVM-7 simultaneously measures particulates and gas concentration in real-time. These monitors measure select toxic gases, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), relative humidity, temperature and air velocity, including CO2 up to 5000 ppm. The RKI GX-6000 is a powerful hand-held instrument that is capable of simultaneously monitoring up to 6 gases, including CO2 up to 10000 ppm. And the RKI Beacon 110 is a fixed system that is microprocessor controlled, versatile, simple to install and operate, and priced to be the industry’s best value single gas detection controller. This instrument can measure CO2 up to 10000 ppm.

We want to help you ensure that your business is safe for you, your employees, and your customers. Keep us in mind as the pandemic continues, and continue to stay safe.

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H2 Detection in Battery Rooms

Hydrogen is quickly becoming established as a major source of power. Infrastructure such as stationary back-up power systems and fuel cell technology are becoming more prominent as they are appreciated for their effectiveness in storing energy. However, it is important to make sure that your home or business continues to diligently monitor hydrogen detection levels, as not doing so can prove costly.

Typically, lead acid batteries are stored in battery rooms as they charge and await use as a backup energy source. When charging, the batteries generate hydrogen gas that emits into the battery rooms. If used to depletion and needed to charge at a higher rate, the batteries will give off a more sizable amount of hydrogen. The lower explosion level (LEL) of hydrogen is 4 percent. This means that if 4 percent of a given volume is filled with hydrogen, it could ignite, causing damage to both life and property. A ventilation system is required per Section 502.5 of the New York City Mechanical Code in order to keep the maximum concentration of hydrogen to 1 percent of the total volume of the room. However, this should not be your only line of defense in ensuring that you remain safe from hydrogen buildup.

Bomark has several fixed detectors in stock that monitor for buildups in hydrogen and other potentially dangerous gases. The RKI Beacon Series simultaneously displays the gas type, readings, and status for up to eight channels of gas detection, along with alarms and strobes for visual and auditory alert. The Model PS 2 is a multipurpose gas monitor utilizing a MOS (metal oxide sensor) for long lasting and low maintenance detection at the LEL or PPM levels of many gases or vapors, making it a perfect low-cost solution for hydrogen detection in battery rooms. And the Honeywell Sensepoint XRL is a flammable gas detector for the detection of potentially explosive gases, or as a toxic gas detector for the detection of a range of toxic gas hazards. The XRL connects to a smartphone app that allows the user to choose alarm set points, run test procedures and automatically generate a commissioning report, which you can send from your phone to other stakeholders or store for easy access in a safety inspection.

Stay protected from future disaster by preventing it before it happens, and continue to stay safe in general.

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Continue to Mask Up in Public

It is encouraging to see vaccine distribution speeding up around the world. With inoculation rates creeping upwards by the day, states lifting restrictions meant to curb further transmission, and hopes that the US can return to a sense of normalcy by Independence Day, it is easy to understand why many are eager to resist following further restrictions and lockdowns. People are tired of being away from family and friends and want things to return to what was. While the definition of “what was” may be forever different, it certainly is not out of the realm of possibility to want a new normal to form so people can be free to live the lives that they want.

However, until we reach that point of herd immunity, we must continue to be mindful with the situations that we put ourselves in. According to the newest round of CDC guidelines, fully vaccinated people (defined as people who are two weeks past their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the first of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) can meet indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or having to observe a certain social distance. Vaccinated people can also visit with unvaccinated people without a mask, but unvaccinated should be conscious of the risk to contract COVID from fellow unvaccinated people.

Whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, though, the guidelines state that people must continue to wear masks and social distance while in public. This does seem annoying to those who have done everything right, including following all the guidelines and getting vaccinated when advised. However, it is the right thing to do, considering that society has not reached herd immunity yet, and in public we interact with strangers that have various backgrounds and medical histories.

It seems redundant, perhaps frustrating, to keep saying that soon enough, this will all be over. But until it is, and afterwards, Bomark will continue to provide safety equipment, including face masks, gloves, respirators and temperature scanners.

Bomark is WBE Certified!

Woman Owned Business Certificate

For years, Bomark Instruments has been certified as a WBE (Woman Owned Business Enterprise) by the New York City Minority and Woman Owned Business Enterprises Program. The program was initially created to bridge the racial and gender gaps in contracting with the City and allow for increased and additional opportunities for minorities and women to do business with the City, as well as with private businesses and individuals. Bomark is proud of its inclusion in this program and its role in enhancing inclusivity in the private and public sectors.

As a small business, we are committed to promoting inclusivity initiatives. We also understand that fellow small businesses are interested in expanding and making impactful change in their own diversity goals and purchasing targets. Bomark is invested in providing opportunities for your company or organization to meet these goals by sourcing products and delivering service in a quick, efficient manner. We currently work with entities such as the New York City Fire Department, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and the New York City Housing Authority as a sourcing and product provider.

Please call or email us if you have any questions.  Our staff prides themselves on being available for every need or challenge your business could face.  We look forward to working with you in the future!

Certificate Number: MWCERT-6125

Bomark Instruments WBE Certificate

Vendor Profile

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double mask

Double Masking Effectively

With COVID-19 vaccines developed and distribution beginning slowly, it is easy to see the light at the tunnel’s end. However, now more than ever is a time to remain vigilant and protect yourself against the spread of COVID-19. New strains of the virus are being reported worldwide, with some considered more contagious and even more deadly than previous strains. The efficacy of face masks in preventing COVID spread has already been proven many times over. Taking the extra step in wearing two face masks or double masking effectively could enhance protection even more. If there are more barriers between your face, nose, and mouth and outside contaminants, there is a less likely chance that these contaminants can invade and expose you to the virus.

double mask

There are several ways to ensure these barriers remain as protective and comfortable as possible, including double masking effectively. An N95 mask is the best first barrier on the market, offering the most rigorous filtering capacity one can get. If you do not have access to an N95 mask, a KN95 mask provides nearly the same protection when worn correctly. The importance of putting this rigid layer on first as opposed to a surgical mask or cloth mask is paramount, as it is the last line of defense against any droplets that a second mask may not catch. When putting on more than one mask, also ensure that you can breathe as you normally would. Wearing double face masks reduces the possibility of contaminants can cause more problems instead of solving them. Who wants to wear a mask combination that always makes them feel like they are about to pass out? When deciding on your combination, make sure that the masks you are wearing are not only practical but are made of materials and fabrics that do not hinder your ability to use them comfortably. Avoid masks made of materials like vinyl and those containing valves or vents, as masks made with these materials go against the intended purpose.

Bomark currently has several different personal protective equipment in stock, including N95, KN95, and Surgical Face Masks. Continue to be responsible by wearing a face covering (or two) where applicable, and together, we will get through this.

The Importance of Replenishing Masks

Wearing a mask has become part of our lives as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. What was once a novel injection into our daily routines has become a regular occurrence. Masks are not just about protecting you or your family members, but also the people in the supermarkets we visit, the parks we walk in, the hospitals where our essential workers grind with tireless effort. Therefore, it is important to not only consider the quality of the masks we wear, but the frequency at which we use each individual mask.

A study (​Effects of mask-wearing on the inhalability and deposition of airborne SARS-CoV-2 aerosols in human upper airway​) was recently conducted with the objective of finding the effects of mask wearing on airflow and the absorption of viral particles on the face and respiratory tract. The study found that when masks were worn, the speed of airflow and particles slowed. The redistribution of airflow favored inhalability of particles into the nose and the upper airway. A typical surgical mask, when worn for the first time, is able to filter these particles with a 65% filtration efficiency (FE), thus reducing the viral load by half when the smallest of particles are inhaled. However, the slowing of particles after wearing a mask can increase the chance of particles to land on the face or be inhaled in either the mouth or nose. When consistently used, the FE of the mask drops to as low as 25%, making prevention considerably less effective.

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Welcome to Bomark Instruments!

Welcome to Bomark Instruments, your premier premier distributor of industrial hygiene, environmental monitoring, and safety instrumentation.  We are here to serve and support your operation.  Here you will find latest news and information related to the industries we support and more information about our story.  We look forward to connecting with you!

 

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