Vocal dose measures: Quantifying accumulated vibration exposure in vocal fold tissues

Ingo R. Titze, Jan G. Švec, Peter S. Popolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


To measure the exposure to self-induced tissue vibration in speech, three vocal doses were defined and described: distance dose, which accumulates the distance that tissue particles of the vocal folds travel in an oscillatory trajectory; energy dissipation dose, which accumulates the total amount of heat dissipated over a unit volume of vocal fold tissues; and time dose, which accumulates the total phonation time. These doses were compared to a previously used vocal dose measure, the vocal loading index, which accumulates the number of vibration cycles of the vocal folds. Empirical rules for viscosity and vocal fold deformation were used to calculate all the doses from the fundamental frequency (F0) and sound pressure level (SPL) values of speech. Six participants were asked to read in normal, monotone, and exaggerated speech and the doses associated with these vocalizations were calculated. The results showed that large F0 and SPL variations in speech affected the dose measures, suggesting that accumulation of phonation time alone is insufficient. The vibration exposure of the vocal folds in normal speech was related to the industrial limits for hand-transmitted vibration, in which the safe distance dose was derived to be about 500 m. This limit was found rather low for vocalization; it was related to a comparable time dose of about 17 min of continuous vocalization, or about 35 min of continuous reading with normal breathing and unvoiced segments. The voicing pauses in normal speech and dialogue effectively prolong the safe time dose. The derived safety limits for vocalization will likely require refinement based on a more detailed knowledge of the differences in hand and vocal fold tissue morphology and their response to vibrational stress, and on the effect of recovery of the vocal fold tissue during voicing pauses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-932
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2003


  • Heat dissipation
  • Safety limits
  • Vocal fold oscillation
  • Voice accumulation
  • Voice dosimetry


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