Impact of Coronavirus Face Masks on the Perceptual Evaluation of Hearing Protectors Comfort

Authors

  • Olivier Valentin <span>1- </span>Groupe d’Acoustique de l’Université de Sherbrooke, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada<span><br /></span><br /><span>2- </span>Centre for interdisciplinary research in music media and technology (CIRMMT), Montreal, Quebec,
  • Philippe-Aubert Gauthier 1- École des arts visuels et médiatiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada<br />2- Centre for interdisciplinary research in music media and technology (CIRMMT), Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Alain Berry <p>1- Groupe d’Acoustique de l’Université de Sherbrooke, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada</p><p>2- Centre for interdisciplinary research in music media and technology (CIRMMT), Montreal, Quebec, Canada</p>

Abstract

After a long hiatus of several months where many research projects were paused or postponed for reasons related to COVID-19, research activities requiring presence in labs resumed at Université de Sherbrooke in July 2020. Research projects involving human participants were authorized to restart as long as participants and experimenters ensure compliance with COVID-19 health and safety requirements. Among the implemented measures to mitigate the transmission of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), wearing a procedure mask or a N95 mask quickly became mandatory to prevent and/or limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the assessment of earplugs’ comfort carried out at Groupe d’Acoustique de l’Université de Sherbrooke were performed without wearing facial masks. Since the comfort or discomfort of earplugs is multi-dimensional (physical, functional, acoustical, and psychological), it is therefore necessary to determine whether the earplugs’ comfort evaluations performed with a facial mask can be aggregated with those obtained without a facial mask.

In the absence of sufficient conclusive evidence in the literature, we decided to compare the earplugs’ comfort evaluations obtained before (i.e., without mask) and after (i.e., with mask) the implementation of mitigation measures to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, in an attempt to conclude to the question “Does wearing a facial mask influence the earplugs’ comfort evaluation?”. Responses to subjective questionnaires on earplugs’ comfort were used to assess the influence of wearing a facial mask on the physical, functional, acoustical, and psychological dimension of the earplugs’ comfort. Additionally, speech in noise tests and alarm detection tests were conducted to complement these subjective comfort assessments. Results show no significant statistical differences between the evaluation data obtained with mask and those obtained without mask.

Author Biographies

Olivier Valentin, <span>1- </span>Groupe d’Acoustique de l’Université de Sherbrooke, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada<span><br /></span><br /><span>2- </span>Centre for interdisciplinary research in music media and technology (CIRMMT), Montreal, Quebec,

Olivier Valentin received a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Université Claude Bernard Lyon I (France) in 2007, a Master’s degree in biomedical engineering from École Polytech Lyon (France) in 2010, a Ph.D. Doctorate in engineering from École de technologie supérieure (Canada) in 2016 and two Specialized Post-Graduate Diploma (D.E.S.S.) from Université de Sherbrooke in 2020 and 2021. In 2016, Olivier joined the Canada-based NSERC-EERS Industrial Research Chair in In-Ear Technologies (CRITIAS) as a postdoctoral researcher to develop a wireless EEG-based BCI system able to both tolerate natural movement and record brain signals. Following this first postdoctoral research collaboration, Olivier joined the Groupe d’Acoustique de l’Université de Sherbrooke (GAUS) in October 2018 where he brought his large expertise in hearing, data analysis, psycho-acoustics, sound quality models, and research ethics, across two research projects. The first project was a large, multi-institutional and international research project on the comfort of hearing protectors in the workplace, and the second one was a collaborative project related to the sound quality of recreational vehicles. Since April 2021, Olivier is working as a Research Associate at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. His research interests include biomedical engineering, acoustics, hearing sciences, electrophysiology, brain computer interfaces and AI.

Philippe-Aubert Gauthier, 1- École des arts visuels et médiatiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada<br />2- Centre for interdisciplinary research in music media and technology (CIRMMT), Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Philippe-Aubert Gauthier is a professor at Université du Québec à Montréal (Canada). He received a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Université Laval (Canada) in 2000, a M.Sc. degree in mechanical engineering (vibration) from Université Laval (Canada) in 2003 and a Ph.D degree in mechanical engineering (acoustics) from Université de Sherbrooke (Canada) in 2007 with the best Ph.D. thesis award in sciences and engineering. His research includes: virtual acoustics, sound quality and sound comfort, signal processing, sound art, digital art, and computer-generated images. He is also involved in the combination of arts, sciences and technologies as the chairman of the board of Sporobole, artist-run centre (Canada) and as an artist. P.-A. Gauthier produced more than 40 artworks and published more than 60 scientific papers and conferences.

Alain Berry, <p>1- Groupe d’Acoustique de l’Université de Sherbrooke, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada</p><p>2- Centre for interdisciplinary research in music media and technology (CIRMMT), Montreal, Quebec, Canada</p>

Alain Berry obtained his master's and doctorate degrees from the Université de Sherbrooke in 1988 and 1991, respectively. He is a full professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sherbrooke, a member of GAUS (Groupe d'Acoustique de l'Université de Sherbrooke) and CIRMMT (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology at McGill University) and he is the co-director of the Centre Acoustique Jacques-Cartier. He currently holds a Canada Research Chair in Vibroacoustics Applied to the Transportation Sector. His research areas are structural acoustics, active noise and vibration control, sound field reproduction, acoustic imaging and musical acoustics. He currently collaborates with several companies in the aerospace and automotive sector on issues related to environmental acoustics and cabin acoustic comfort. 

Additional Files

Published

2022-07-05

How to Cite

1.
Valentin O, Gauthier P-A, Berry A. Impact of Coronavirus Face Masks on the Perceptual Evaluation of Hearing Protectors Comfort. Canadian Acoustics [Internet]. 2022 Jul. 5 [cited 2024 Apr. 21];50(3):80-1. Available from: https://jcaa.caa-aca.ca/index.php/jcaa/article/view/3851

Issue

Section

Proceedings of the Acoustics Week in Canada

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 > >>