Quality of Life

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.

This would have been great if you were a Beyonce fan:

Beyonce gig was heard eight miles away.

But not so much if you’re not a fan.

Q: If the concert can be heard eight miles away, what is the sound system doing to the ears of the concert goers?

A: Invest in hearing aid companies.  Sadly, that will be a growth industry.

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.”

No surprise here:

.Noise Complaints Rising In New York City.

New York City has a noise code [pdf warning].  It’s pretty comprehensive and is looked to as a model for other cities.  So why the rise in noise complaints?  One reason the article notes is this: Police said writing noise complaint tickets is to an officer’s discretion.

Police probably do not have the training and equipment to properly monitor noise complaints, and noise is probably low on the priority list.  If cities are going to seriously address noise pollution, they need to have a designated team of professionals to investigate noise complaints and issue citations.  Until that happens statutes will rarely be enforced and noise polluters will continue unabated.

Live under a flight path? Concerned about the effect of aircraft noise on your health?

So are a handful of members of congress serving Massachusetts, who “are calling on the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study about the health effects of air traffic noise and pollution on humans.”

The request for more research follows on the heels of a five-fold increase in aircraft noise complaints with the Massachusetts Port Authority.  Citing a joint public health 2013 study by Harvard University and Boston University showing a link between exposure to aircraft noise and cardiovascular disease, the request asks for research on the health impacts from noise and jet emissions, such as carbon dioxide.

 

 

Noise can hurt a lot more than your hearing:

Too much noise: Bad for your ears and your heart.

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.

City of Santa Maria, California knows how to address July 4th noise:

Signs available for noise sensitive residents on 4th of July.

And before someone complains about having to accommodate those sensitive to noise, consider who may be at risk.  As KSBY.com reports, “[t]he signs are intended for veterans with PTSD, people with autism, owners of pets, and others with noise sensitivity.”

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.

Noise-free work space is now a perk.

When It Comes to Workplace Noise, Millennials Can’t Even.

Yes, as upper management tries to squeeze more and more of the worker bees into the tiniest footprint they can, it turns out that savings in the account ledger comes at a price:

Oxford Economics, an analysis firm spun out of Oxford University’s business college, reached out to more than 1,200 executives and non-senior employees across industries, including healthcare, retail, manufacturing, financial services, and the government sector. The majority of the respondents (74 percent) reported that they worked in open-plan offices. A handful had private offices, and the rest split their days between home offices, travel, co-working spaces, or a combination of the three. About half of the respondents were Millennials.

*    *     *

More than half of the employees complained about noise. The researchers found that Millennials were especially likely to voice concern about rising decibels, and to wear headphones to drown out the sound or leave their desks in search of quieter corners.

So what was the most important “perk” for millennials?

Across the board, uninterrupted work time trumped employees’ wish lists. [Ed: emphasis added.] None of the respondents indicated that amenities like free food were most important to them in a work environment.

Essentially, providing an environment that allows your employees to do their work is a perk.  How telling is that?