How do we protect quiet?

Photo credit: VisionPic .net from Pexels

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Noise in Europe has been a concern of health authorities there for some years. In 2011, the WHO’s European office issued a report on the global burden of disease from noise and in 2018 issued Environmental Noise Guidelines.

Despite regulatory efforts, the European Environmental Agency reports that there has been no progress in making Europe quieter. This report from Euronews cites statistics from the EEA that 20% of the European population is exposed to levels of noise considered harmful to health.

Traffic noise is a major environmental problem. The COVID-19 shutdowns, however, caused a wave of quiet to spread across the globe. Scientists are calling this “the anthropause.” We have reported on the effects of reductions in human activity on seismic levels and noise levels in cities and the oceans, and Euronews reports that people noticed birdsong more than before.

How do we protect quiet?

One way to protect quiet is to preserve quiet spaces. The Euronews report also mentions two efforts we have mentioned before, Gordon Hampton’s Quiet Parks International and Dr. Antonella Radicchi’s HushCity app, which Euronews reports is being used by city councils in Berlin, Germany and Limerick, Ireland.

The Environmental Protection Agency was tasked with eliminating noise pollution in the U.S. by the Noise Control Act of 1972 and the Quiet Communities Act of 1978, but federal noise enforcement activities ceased during the Reagan era when the EPA’s Office of Noise Abatement and Control was defunded.

We hope that a future president will recognize the importance of quiet and restore funding for noise abatement and control in the U.S.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

Comments (2)

  1. Judy Gundersen

    I recall with great fondness the complete quiet in the first days after the Blizzard of ‘77, no planes, no traffic and very minimal other noise. It was also close to very quiet in April/May when traffic slowed and planes were few. The sounds of birds in the daytime and the wind through the trees on quiet days makes me long for the countryside. We cannot get ride of all noise but there is so many sounds of motors and engines we can reduce but it will take a concerted effort. There are some conveniences we do not need…leaf blowers, lawn movers, (does it takes any more energy to use a broom or a grass cutter?) for example. Do motorcycles have to be loud? Just some examples.

  2. Suzanne Knight

    I am hoping President Biden and Vice President Harris will work toward minimizing damaging noise from airplanes and all forms of transportation and work toward protecting people’s health as a primary goal.


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