The Quiet Coalition

Pursuing an invisible threat

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Prof. Richard Neitzel, of the University of Michigan and a co-founder of The Quiet Coalition, views noise as an invisible threat. In this university news release, he discusses some of his research and its implications for health.

Watch Dr. Neitzel talk about noise pollution and his career studying noise pollution exposure and health outcomes:

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He serves on the board of the American Tinnitus Association, is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’s Health Advisory Council, and 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.

Walden, the video game?

Photo credit: Sarah Nichols

David Sykes, the vice-chair of The Quiet Coalition, muses about Walden, the video game, and how trying times compel us to seek stillness and tranquility.  So how exactly does Walden the video game differ from Grand Theft Auto? Like this:

Instead of offering the thrills of stealing, violence and copious cursing, the new video game, based on Thoreau’s 19th-century retreat in Massachusetts, will urge players to collect arrowheads, cast their fishing poles into a tranquil pond, buy penny candies and perhaps even jot notes in a journal — all while listening to music, nature sounds and excerpts from the author’s meditations.

And if you don’t leave enough “time for contemplation, or work too hard, the game cautions: ‘Your inspiration has become low, but can be regained by reading, attending to sounds of life in the distance, enjoying solitude and interacting with visitors, animal and human.’”

Kudos and best of luck to lead designer, Tracy J. Fullerton, the director of the Game Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, and her team.

New Umbrella Organization Takes Aim at Noise

On October 1, 2016, members of nine scientific, medical, and legal organizations launched a national umbrella anti-noise group, The Quiet Coalition (TQC), hosted by the nonprofit organization Quiet Communities, to advocate for a quieter world. TQC brings together a diverse group of organizations and individuals, each with a unique focus or interest, in the fight against noise. It brings medical, scientific, legal, and other specialized knowledge to the public policy process to advocate for all Americans to make our world quieter, more sustainable, and livable. On December 7th, TQC’s website went live.

TQC recognizes that noise is like secondhand smoke, in that it is both a nuisance and a health hazard. Both environmental noise and secondhand smoke involuntarily expose large segments of the public to harmful conditions, increasing their risk of disease.  And decades of research show conclusively that excessive environmental noise adversely affects health, learning, productivity, and the environment.

Why have decision makers been so slow to regulate noise? According to a newly published editorial in the American Journal of Public Health by Daniel Fink, MD, Founding Chair of the TQC, the answer lies in public policy.  “Although noise was known to be a health hazard, it was treated as an environmental pollutant…with federal noise control activities assigned to the EPA.” These noise control activities were never adequately funded or supported, and federal and local health agencies were left with no meaningful responsibility. As a result, the issue has remained under the radar. TQC intends to change this now.

“The scientific evidence is incontrovertible: noise causes hearing loss and other health problems. We have a responsibility to speak up just as experts did when the dangers of smoking became known,” says Fink. Fink adds that “through recent discoveries, the mechanisms by which noise damages auditory cells, the nervous system, and the cardiovascular system are becoming clear.”  TQC Program Director Jamie Banks, PhD, notes that “[p]ublic health policy to protect the nation’s health from environmental noise is long overdue,” and declares that, “[TQC] will provide decision makers with the scientific evidence needed to make informed policy decisions.”

To learn more about TQC and it’s mission to protect the public from noise, visit the TQC website.

 

South Pasadena Becomes Nation’s First AGZA Green Zone® City

South Pasedena’s parks and lands are now free of deafening noise and toxic pollution from gas-powered landscape maintenance equipment.

Quiet Communities has announced that South Pasadena has taken the first brave step forward and switched the maintenance of “all 41 acres (!) of municipal lands to advanced electric landscape maintenance equipment and manual tools.”

By transitioning to electric and manual tools, reports Quiet Communities, the city is:

[E]liminating toxic and carcinogenic emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, and hazardous waste associated with the use of gas-powered engines including hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides (ground level ozone precursors) fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide (CO), and carbon dioxide.  All are known to contribute to serious health problems and environmental degradation.  Schools, businesses, and parks can be enjoyed as peaceful public spaces.  The new equipment will improve working conditions for grounds crews who will no longer have to expose themselves to deafening noise, harmful emissions, or equipment vibrations.  Residents will enjoy a cleaner, healthier environment and improved quality of life.

Quiet Communities is bringing AGZA Green Zones to the East Coast.  To learn more about creating an AGZA Green Zone, click the link above or contact Quiet Communities at: info@quietcommunities.org.

Noise that can’t be escaped:

Data Proves That Effort To Quiet O’Hare Night Skies Working Only About Half The Time.  DNAinfo.com reports that “[p]lanes landed and took off as promised 57 percent of the time during the first eight weeks of a test to rotate the O’Hare Airport runways used at night to give Northwest Side residents some relief from jet noise.”  Apparently summer storms required air traffic controllers to divert from the plan, not allowing them to use runways that were supposed to keep certain areas quieter.

The reason for the test is that some residents complained that it was “impossible to get an uninterrupted night of sleep since an east-west runway opened in 2013.”  In response, the airport has implemented “voluntary restrictions on nighttime operations at O’Hare, known as Fly Quiet, [which] encourage pilots and air traffic controllers to fly over expressways, industrial areas and forest preserves to reduce the noise over residential areas from 10 p.m.-7 a.m.”  How nice.  And yet:

Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans has touted the rotation as a “big breakthrough” in city efforts to reduce the jet noise that prompted more than 4 million complaints in 2015. (emphasis added)

4 million jet noise complaints in one year.

Each element of noise in today’s world apparently stands on its own.  Eventually people will have to recognize that all noise is noise and must be regulated in a fair manner so that people can sleep, think, and function.  Keep an eye on this site, because help is coming.