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Papers of the Week

2020 May 12

Int J Occup Med Environ Health

Impact of very high-frequency sound and low-frequency ultrasound on people – the current state of the art.


Pawlaczyk-Łuszczyńska M, Dudarewicz A
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2020 May 12.
PMID: 32406875.


For several decades, low-frequency ultrasound (<100 kHz) has been widely used in industry, medicine, commerce, military service and the home. The objective of the study was to present the current state of the art on the harmful effects of low-frequency airborne ultrasound on people, especially in occupational settings. The scientific literature search was performed using accessible medical and other databases (WOS, BCI, CCC, DRCI, DIIDW, KJD, MEDLINE, RSCI, SCIELO and ZOOREC), and the obtained results were then hand-searched to eliminate non-relevant papers. This review includes papers published in 1948-2018. The potential effects of the low-frequency airborne ultrasound have been classified as auditory and non-auditory effects, including subjective, physiological, and thermal effects. In particular, already in the 1960-1970s, it was demonstrated that ultrasonic exposure, when sufficiently intense, appeared to result in a syndrome involving nausea, headache, vomiting, disturbance of coordination, dizziness, and fatigue, and might cause a temporary or permanent hearing impairment. However, since that time, not too much work has been done. Further studies are needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn about the auditory and non-auditory effects of low-frequency airborne ultrasound.