Hazard from weapons impulses: Histological and electrophysiological evidence

G. ichard Price, Hee Nam Kim, David J. Lim, Derek Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Current methods of rating the hazard of weapons impulses for the ear have recently been challenged by electrophysiological data from experiments with animal ears which indicate that the hazard from low-frequency impulses is much lower than the hazard from higher frequency impulses (Dancer et al., 1981; Price, 1986b). To supplement these data, histological data are reported here for 51 cats that were exposed on one occasion to either rifle or howitzer impulses at peak pressures from 145 to 155 dB or 153 to 166 dB, respectively. Histological procedures (scanning electron and light microscopy) were carried out over 2 months after the exposure and after electrophysiological measures had been made. For both types of impulse the losses tended to be in the middle of the cochlea in focused lesions, even though the spectral peaks of the acoustic stimuli had been at about 80 Hz (howitzer) and 1000 Hz (rifle). Outer hair cells were more susceptible than the inner hair cells and interindividual differences in effects were large. Furthermore, the two impulse sources were equally hazardous when the peak pressure of the rifle impulse was lower than the peak pressure of the howitzer impulse by about 9 dB. In terms of A-weighted energy, the exposures were equally hazardous when the rifle exposure contained about 35 times less energy than the howitzer exposure. The histological data are thus consistent with the electrophysiological data, which indicate that present standards for impulse noise exposure may overrate the hazard of low-frequency impulses relative to impulses in the midrange.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1245-1254
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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