Noise Control

Noise is another potential variable in the animal's environment that can also be stressful for the staff. The primary noise producers are the cage sanitation area, canine-housing rooms, and sometimes, depending on the species, nonhuman primate rooms. Design features such as strategically locating these areas to buffer them, and architectural measures that reduce sound transmission should be carefully considered, including double-entry doors, soundproof walls, locating corridors and support areas around the noise-generating areas, and locating the noise-generating areas next to outside walls or mechanical spaces. Conventional acoustical materials impede sanitation and vermin control and should be avoided; however, sound attenuating panels that can easily be removed, washed, and sanitized in mechanical cage washers are commercially available and should be considered for use in especially noisy areas of the facility.33 All in-room activities, including cage changing, must be conducted in a manner that generates as little noise as possible. Background noise, e.g., soft music, can help to buffer unavoidable noise inherent in routine care and use procedures.

Other common sources of avoidable excessive noise include improperly sized ventilation ducts and outlets, improper air balancing that results in whistling around the room door, and improperly sealed room penetrations that also result in whistling. Vacuum equipment and the conduit used to transport bedding generate a large amount of noise and should be isolated or insulated or both to assure adequate sound attenuation. Fire alarms selected for animal housing areas should disturb the animals as little as possible. Most rodent species cannot hear frequencies below 1000 kHz, although guinea pigs are capable of hearing down to 200 kHz. Fire alarms that operate between 400 kHz and 500 kHz should be used in facilities that house rodents.

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