Peer Reviewed Publication
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Regulators in Europe and in the United States have developed sound exposure criteria. Criteria range from broadband levels to frequency weighted received sound levels. The associated differences in impact assessment results are, however, not yet understood. This uncertainty makes environmental management of transboundary anthropogenic noise challenging and causes confusion for regulators who need to choose appropriate exposure criteria. In the present study, three established exposure criteria frameworks from Germany, Denmark, and the US were used to analyse the effect of impact pile driving at a location in the Baltic Sea on harbor porpoise and harbor seal hearing. The acoustic modeling using MIKE showed that an unmitigated scenario would lead to auditory injury for all three criteria. Despite readily apparent variances in impact ranges among the applied approaches, it was also evident that noise mitigation measures could reduce underwater sound to levels where auditory injuries would be unlikely in most cases. It was concluded that each of the frameworks has its own advantages and disadvantages. Single noise exposure criteria follow the precautionary principle and can be enforced relatively easily, whereas criteria that consider hearing capabilities and animal response movement can improve the accuracy of the assessment if data are available.
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