Ultrasound Exposure Can Make People Feel Ill

March 7, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. exposure / ɪkˈspoʊ ʒər / (n.) – the act of being subjected to something
Example: He had a skin disease because of too much exposure to sunlight.

2. frequency / ˈfri kwən si / (n.) – a unit used for measuring sound
Example: Scientists tested if dogs could hear even the lowest frequency of sound.

3. occupational / ˌɒk yəˈpeɪ ʃə nl / (adj.) – describing something related to a job or work
Example: Some occupational hazards of construction work include exposure to falling objects and loud sounds.

4. insufficient / ˌɪn səˈfɪʃ ənt / (adj.) – not enough
Example: The evidence they presented in the court was insufficient.

5. threshold / ˈθrɛʃ oʊld / (n.) – the beginning or starting level of something
Example: I don’t feel pain easily because I have a high pain threshold


Read the text below.
Scientists found that exposure to high frequency sound waves, better known as ultrasound, can cause people to feel ill.

University of Southampton professor Tim Leighton and his colleagues discovered that ultrasound exposure can explain why many individuals complain about dizziness, nausea, migraine, fatigue, and other negative conditions. The team's study suggests that these people are not aware of high frequency sound waves that they have been exposed to in various public places.

Currently, workplaces have existing guidelines for protection against occupational ultrasound caused by industrial cleaning or drilling equipment. Leighton believes that these   guidelines are insufficient for the general public and is calling out for the establishment of a separate set of guidelines for those who are exposed to ultrasound in public or residential areas.

Leighton and his team based their findings on sound recordings they collected from various public places such as train stations, schools, sports stadiums, libraries, and shopping centers. Results show that the public is regularly exposed to ultrasound frequencies beyond 20 kHz – higher than the threshold of sound frequency to be heard by an individual, based on workplace guidelines.

Since recordings showed frequency levels that are beyond the ideal level, Leighton believes that people in these places who complain of certain symptoms may be unaware that ultrasound exposure is the cause. However, he also notes that the limited number of studies about ultrasound makes it impossible to provide evidence on the risk of high frequency sound waves to the general public.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think Leighton’s call for further research on ultrasound should be taken seriously? Why or why not?
·         What do you think can authorities do to help people avoid the harmful effects of ultrasound?

Discussion B
·         Why is it important for people to take care of their hearing?
·         What will you do to cope if you cannot hear? Explain your answer.

March 7, 2016