Sound Wave
Light, Sound and Waves

Boombox lung

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

High amplitude sounds can cause pneumothorax, a build-up of air in the pleural space that leads to the detachment of a lung from the chest wall, commonly called a ‘collapsed lung’. Low frequency, high intensity sound can be damaging to the lungs, particularly if the sound matches the resonant frequency of the functional tissue, 128 Hz.

A report describes four case studies of pneumothorax induced by loud sounds, including a 19 year-old male smoker who had installed a 1000 W bass speaker in his car. Whilst listening to music, the young man experienced a sudden pain in the right side of his chest and became breathless due to the reoccurrence of pneumothorax.

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