International Space Station (ISS) Crewmember’s Noise Exposures from 2015 to Present
Richard W. Danielson
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Noise has been an enduring environmental physical hazard that has challenged the U.S. space programs since before the Apollo program. During long-duration missions on the International Space Station (ISS), noise exposures from onboard equipment and crew activities are posing concerns for human factors, human performance and crew health. According to acoustic dosimetry data collected to date, NASA’s stringent noise hazard exposure limits; (based on World Health Organization guidelines), have been exceeded approximately 45% of the time since ISS increment 17 (2008), with undefined impacts on crew. This measure does not take into account the effects of any hearing protection devices (HPDs) worn by the crew, as the dosimeter microphones are attached to the crew’s collars. The crew are instructed to wear HPDs as an operational control when exposed to known hazardous noise sources, and when they feel the noise levels are high. It is still crucial to control noise aboard ISS to acceptable noise levels during the work-time period, and also to provide a restful sleep environment during the sleep-time period. The purpose of this paper is to provide an update on crew noise exposure monitoring data collected since May 2015 (ISS Increment 43) and also to compare data to previous reporting periods. A review of NASA’s noise level constraints flight rule will be briefly described, as well as our Noise Exposure Estimation Tool and Noise Hazard Inventory implementation. Future acoustics research will aim to relate ISS noise exposures to auditory and non-auditory health effects, especially how acoustic conditions can affect hearing sensitivity, human performance, sleep, and crew health on the ISS.