The New Yorker asks: Is Noise The Next Big Public Health Crisis?

Photo credit: ŠJů licensed under CC BY 4.0

by David M. Sykes, Vice Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This superbly written piece appeared in the New Yorker magazine online edition May 6 (it is in the May 13, 2019, print edition). Kudos to staff writer David Owen for his second article on the subject of noise–his first, on high-tech hopes for the hard of hearing, was published in March 2017. Owen also has a book coming out this October called “Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening Worldthat we eagerly await—could this book help tip the scales?

We’re especially proud that Mr. Owen worked with several of The Quiet Coalition’s founders to produce this latest piece: our chair, Daniel Fink, MD, Arline Bronzaft, PhD, Les Blomberg, Bryan Pollard and maybe others. The first three are quoted in the piece and Bryan facilitated contact between the writer and the hyperacusis patient whose story appeared in the article, and assisted with fact checking on hyperacusis.

When we started The Quiet Coalition, our goal was to act as a reliable and accurate source of science stories to major media. The Quiet Coalition has assembled a outstanding group of members who are willing to share their knowledge and noise contacts with editors and reporters. As this and several other articles show, it’s working!

In addition to serving as vice chair of the The Quiet Coalition, David Sykes chairs several professional organizations in acoustical science: The Acoustics Research Council, American National Standards Institute Committee S12, Workgroup 44, The Rothschild Foundation Task Force on Acoustics, and the FGI Acoustics Working Group—a partner of the American Hospital Association. He is the lead author of “Sound & Vibration 2.0 (2012, Springer-Verlag), a contributor to the National Academy of Engineering report “Technology for a Quieter America,” and to the US-GSA guidance “Sound Matters”, and co-founded the Laboratory for Advanced Research in Acoustics (LARA) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He recently retired from the board of directors of the American Tinnitus Association. A graduate of the University of California/Berkeley with graduate degrees from Cornell University, he is a frequent organizer of and speaker at professional conferences in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Comments (3)

  1. K. Scott Phillips, PhD

    Absolutely, noise needs to be regulated just like other sources of pollution. Jets BY LARGE margins contribute way more than their fair share of environment destroying noise and have a TERRIBLE noise-to-benefit ratio. Therefore, jet noise should be the first goal for these regulations. I propose that EPA should carry out the development and enforcement of federal noise protection laws, since protecting the environment is what they do best. I am writing an article on a new science-based approach to quantify jet noise impact on a community- the current approaches which are based more on practice than on quantifiable science greatly underestimate how it is harming public health. I hope that this new approach might be considered to address air noise injustice created by regulatory capture of FAA.

    1. GMB (Post author)

      Thank you for your comment.

      1. David M. Sykes

        Wonder if you’ve looked at the “alternative/supplemental metrics” project for which funding is provided in the FAA Reauthoriztion Act that Congress passed and president Trump signed? I-INCE and researchers like Sandy Fidell have been pushing for “supplemental/alternative metrics” for a long time and it’s quite an accomplishment that the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus got this into the FAA Reauthorization Act.


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