Peace and Quiet

Sure, noise is detrimental to health, but is there a health benefit to silence?

Short answer?  Maybe.

To learn more about the early research on silence and health, read How Prolonged Exposure to Sweet, Blessed Silence Benefits the Brain.

Efforts to expedite airplane noise studies for JFK and LaGuardia airports:

Schumer urges Port Authority to expedite noise studies addressing “airplane noise being emanated over the communities closest to John F. Kennedy International Airport on the South Shore of Queens such as the Five Towns and several others, and LaGuardia Airport on the North Shore of the borough.”

Quiet fireworks? Must be an oxymoron, no? No:

Oh, Say, Can You See (but Not Hear) Those Fireworks?

Why would someone want quiet fireworks, you may ask?  Pet owners know that cats and particularly dogs can be adversely affected by fireworks, but humans are at risk as well:

For people, loud fireworks can lead to hearing loss. The World Health Organization lists 120 decibels as the pain threshold for sound, including sharp sounds such as thunderclaps. Fireworks are louder than that.

“They’re typically above 150 decibels, and can even reach up to 170 decibels or more,” said Nathan Williams, an audiologist at Boys Town National Research Hospital in Nebraska.

Dr. Williams also sees higher traffic to his clinic after Independence Day. “We usually see a handful of people every year,” he said. “In these cases, hearing loss is more likely to be permanent.”

And Dr. Williams added that children are more vulnerable to hearing loss from fireworks because they have more sensitive hearing.  So if you are going to a fireworks display this weekend, enjoy it safely and bring ear plugs for the whole family.

Thanks to Daniel Fink, M.D., a noise pollution activist in the Los Angeles area, for the link.  Dr. Fink serves on the board of the American Tinnitus Association and the Health Advisory Council of Quiet Communities.

Hear, hear:

On this July 4th Weekend, A Modest Plea for Less Noise.

Not sure if we would agree with his assessment of why noise is so pervasive, but this bit is dead on:

And noise isn’t simply about volume: it’s about persistence.  It’s about invasiveness.  Think of people who chatter away on Smart phones even as they’re out for a quiet walk along the beach or in the woods. How can you hear the waves or the birds if you’re screaming into a phone? Bits and pieces of conversations I’ve overheard are not about emergencies or even pressing matters; it’s more like, “Guess where I am?  I’m at the beach/concert/top of the mountain!”  Followed by selfies and postings and more calls or texts.

With all these forms of noise, it’s difficult to be in the moment.  It’s even difficult to find a moment.  Also, even in quiet times, people feel pressured to fill the silence with, well, something.  So unaccustomed to quiet are they that they reach for their Smart phones (perhaps to play a noisy video game), or they turn on the TV, or they chatter away even when they have nothing to say. Must avoid “uncomfortable” silences, so we’ve been told.

Who knew? Country living isn’t always as quiet as one might assume:

French frogs’ noisy love-making ruled a public disturbance in row between neighbours.

Click the link for what is an interesting discussion regarding “complaints about countryside noise from so-called ‘neo-rurals.'”  Long and short, the countryside isn’t a library, and city dwellers seeking quiet will soon realize that country life comes with its own sound track.

It looks like the campaign to provide noise-free shopping is progressing:

Scottish shopping center to introduce a quiet hour to make mall “more autism-friendly.”

In the UK, at least, business owners are beginning to understand that there is an underserved market that is eager for noise-free environments.  While efforts to address this market may be driven in part by compassion, there is no doubt that a robust response by the buying public will make quiet hours de rigueur.  Let’s hope the UK experience is profitable, because that may give incentive to U.S. businesses to design quieter spaces.

How can you address noise pollution in the home?

Living the quiet life thanks to acoustic fittings.

The article interviews Poppy Szkiler of Quiet Mark, which is associated with the Noise Abatement Society, a UK charity.  Szkiler said that, “[i]t’s difficult to mount a campaign against something like noise that you can’t actually see. You need a positive reward system to encourage manufacturers to design quieter products.”  So Quiet Mark, using a sophisticated testing system, “gives approval awards to encourage noise reduction in everyday household appliances.”  Readers are encouraged to look for the Quiet Mark, a purple “Q” symbol, on an item to know they are getting the quietest of its class.

If you have seen appliances bearing the Quiet Mark in U.S. retailers, please let us know in the comments.

Noise reduction has become a “major preoccupation” in Scandinavian interiors

Acoustics were the hot topic at Stockholm Furniture Fair, with designers and brands launching products aimed at making interiors quieter.

One of the fair’s jurors noted that “designers have neglected noise in interiors for too long,” adding that they fail to consider sound because they focus solely on whether a design looks nice.  Most of the designs were in response to the open floor plans corporations have adopted as a way to squeeze as many employees into as little a footprint as possible, as a “side effect of this is that workers’ productivity is increasingly affected by noise distractions.”  No doubt the cost of distraction hits the bottom line in one way or another, as the article states that there is a great deal of demand for these products in Scandinavia.  One hopes American designers embrace the noise reduction trend sooner rather than later.

Attention New York City residents: Free film

Rooftop Films is presenting “In Pursuit of Silence” for free on July 30th.  “in Pursuit of Silence” examines silence as a “resource for respite and renewal from the sensory onslaught of our modern lives.”  In keeping with the theme, “[t]he film will be presented as a special silent screening, with the audience listening to the film on headphones.”  Click the link above for more information.

 

Imagine a world in which every corner is filled with non-stop piped music.

We would rather not.  And Nigel Rodgers, a Brit with a mission, agrees.  Which is why Rodgers has formed Pipedown, an organization that attempts to persuade retailers, airports, and other businesses to stop playing piped music in their public spaces.  Read about Nigel’s campaign in Pipedown. Please.

Link via Quiet Edinburgh.