If you’ve ever sat in the back of a lecture hall or a large office and struggled to hear what the speaker was saying, you’ve experienced poor acoustic design. Unfortunately, though considerable attention has been paid to the acoustic design of performance spaces such as concert halls and recording studios, most people spend their time in places where acoustic design has been, for the most part, neglected. Poor acoustic design can be especially damaging for people who work in factories or manufacturing jobs, as exposure to loud machinery can cause hearing damage over time.
As homeowners and business owners have become more aware of the potential damage that poor acoustic control can cause themselves, their employees, and their clients, they have become more interested in installing sound-absorption panels. However, these panels are not without their risks.
Traditional Acoustic Panels
The majority of acoustic panels used today contain fiberglass or synthetic fibers, which, if damaged, can harm the eyes and lungs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that the fibers most frequently used in traditional sound absorption panels can be reasonably anticipated to be carcinogenic. In tests, inhaling these fibers significantly increased the occurrence of lung cancer in rats.
Coir Acoustic Panels
Unlike traditional acoustic panels, coir acoustic panels are constructed primarily of coir fiber. Coir fiber is extracted from the husks of coconuts and, traditionally, has been burned or used in agricultural processes. However, recent research into the properties of coir has shown that it can be used to replace synthetic fibers in a number of products.
Several studies have been conducted to investigate the effectiveness of coir acoustic panels. These studies found that coir panels, on their own or layered with perforated plates, can absorb sound and improve the acoustics of a space nearly as well as standard acoustic panels. Furthermore, because coir fibers are highly customizable, it is possible to build panels to absorb either higher or lower frequencies, depending on the particular needs of the consumer.
The Benefits of Coir Acoustic Panels
The primary benefit of coir acoustic panels is that they are made without potentially cancer-causing materials. Because coir fibers are nontoxic and biodegradable, they pose no threat to people or the environment, even if the panels do sustain damage. Coir fibers themselves leave behind no waste when they biograde.
Coir acoustic panels are also highly cost-effective. Because coir is a waste product of coconut farming, the material cost is very low. A low material cost means a low overall cost of production, which decreases the cost of the finished product. Compared to traditional acoustic panels, coir acoustic panels are less expensive, less harmful to the environment, and pose less risk to the people using them.
If you want to add acoustic panels to your home or office, you should consider looking into coir acoustic panels. Though they are not as common as traditional acoustic panels, you may find that the benefits of these panels outweigh the convenience of other acoustic panel options.