by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
Politico reports that noise levels in Europe are increasing after several months of quiet during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Most noise in developed countries is transportation noise from road traffic, aircraft, and trains. When the COVID-19 pandemic led to decreases in all sorts of transportation, Europe and the U.S. became quieter.
This is a good thing. As the article notes, noise is toxic to both humans and animals. Urban dwellers heard birdsong, often for the first time, because it wasn’t obscured by the din of traffic.
The dangers of noise are recognized in Europe, where the World Health Organization published Environmental Noise Guidelines in 2018.
In the U.S., the dangers of noise were recognized in the Noise Control Act of 1972 and the Quiet Communities Act of 1978, but implementation of these two laws stopped during the Reagan years when the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Noise Abatement and Control was defunded.
We hope that under the Biden administration, implementation of laws meant to protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans from the dangers of noise will become a reality again.
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.