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Re: Impacts from ultrasound and infrasound

Hi Amy

Please let me mention the common misunderstanding that the human hearing "stops" st around 16-20 Hz. We do denote sound below 20 Hz as "infrasound", but it is not inaudible. Below these frequencies, the perception changes, and the tonal sensation disappears. But tones at least down to a couple of hertz can indeed be perceived by everyone. The lower the frequency, the higher the threshold. The sensation goes through the ear, not the body as often claimed. I think it is still unclear, if the sensation is from the cochlear or elsewhere in the ear.

For a fairly recent review, please allow me to promote our article: Henrik Møller, Christian Sejer Pedersen: "Hearing at low and infrasonic frequencies", Noise & Health, Vol. 6(23), pp. 37-57 (2004).

The idea of infrasound being inaudible has caused a number of misunderstandings, in particular in the popular press (but also in the academic literature).

Best regards,


Henrik Møller

Section of Acoustics, Department of Electronic Systems
Aalborg University
Fredrik Bajers Vej 7 B5
DK-9220 Aalborg Ø, Denmark

Phone: +45 9940 8711 (direct)
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Amy R. Scholik-Schlomer skrev:

I am emailing to ask the group if anyone can direct me to publications (preferably reviews) on the impacts of ultrasound or infrasound on humans/animals. Typically, impacts are only considered for those noises that fall into a species auditory range, but I wanted to know more about potential impacts/likelihood for impacts for those sounds outside the auditory range (assuming they would be more physiological, rather than behavioral, where an animal would have to hear the sound in order to respond).

I am coming at this from a bit different angle, since I am considering this in the context of non-human hearing ranges (thus, infra- and ultrasonic ranges may be different depending on the species), specifically for marine species (fish, marine mammals, and sea turtles).

In order not to clog up everyone's email boxes, you can respond to me directly, if you like (email in my signature below).

Thanks for your help,

Amy R. Scholik-Schlomer, Ph.D.
Fishery Biologist
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service
Office of Protected Resources
Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Conservation Division
1315 East-West Highway
SSMC III, Room 13605
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Email: Amy.Scholik@xxxxxxxx
Phone: (301) 713-2322 x167 Fax: (301) 713-4060