Silencity

The Truth About Noise

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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.

He just had to stop the noise:

Man starts fire in apartment over neighbors having sex.  So, what exactly pushed him over the edge?  The defendant told the police that he started the fire “because his neighbors were having sex and making too much noise.”  How much noise?  So much that he decided that “he would rather go to prison and ‘get away from the noise.'”

We understand the defendant’s frustration while noting his lack of judgment.

Attention American retailers: Stop playing music in your stores

British retailer to stop playing music in major stores following customer feedback.

Marks & Spencer (M&S), the “UK’s biggest chain store,” is “scrapping its in-store playlists after ten years in a bid to revive its fortunes.”  They claim they aren’t cutting the music to save costs, but a version of this story in The Telegraph notes that “the chain stands to save tens of thousands of pounds a year as a result of turning off so-called ‘piped music.'”

This change wasn’t a spontaneous act of goodwill by M&S executives.  Rather, it appears to have been sparked by the anti-noise group Pipedown, which “protested against piped music in M&S, and recently urged shoppers to convince the retailers’ new CEO, Steve Rowe to mute the muzac.”  Kudos Pipedown!

And for American retailers, consider that killing the music in your stores might please your customers and save you money as well.  Sounds like a win-win.

 

Dying in noise:

Death. I fear dying – in noise.  An interesting article by Mai-Britt Beldam, who designs/manages acoustics in health care, about her father’s time in hospice, a Cambridge professor reduced to tears by a noisy hospital as he was dying, and her fear of dying in noise.

 

 

It looks like people are finally considering the effect of noise on hospital patients

Intensive care patients plagued by excessive noise, finds research.

As this article on a study by staff in a Belgian intensive care unit (ICU) highlights, the noise levels in ICUs far exceeds World Health Organization guidelines for hospitals.  While the article mentions “subjective feeling of noise pollution experienced by patients, nurses and doctors,” it fails to address more immediate problem with noisy ICUs, namely the interference with sleep and the effects of sleep deprivation on patients–patients who are in an ICU and clearly need rest to recover from a significant health event.  One hopes that recognition of the problem will result in better study and more remedies for this problem than the “practical solution” offered by an ICU doctor, i.e., providing “earplugs or other ear defender devices” to patients.

 

How are patients expected to recover when hospitals are so loud?

Intensive care’s intensive noise problem.  Click the link for an interesting read about the effect of noise in intensive care units on both patients and staff.  Short form: Patients can’t sleep, staff have increased stress levels.

Link via Quiet Mark, a UK national charitable foundation that focuses on abating excessive and unnecessary noise by creating demand and providing incentive for quieter technology in homes, workplaces, and public spaces.

 

Breaking the social contract?

The Tyranny of Noise.  Do click the link as this is a worthwhile read.  In this brief post, the author talks about the daily aural intrusions into our personal space as we are forced to deal with what the author calls a “kind of social rudeness.”  We would remove the words “kind of” from that phrase.  In any event, the author lists three ways in which she attempts “to push back on the cacophony of sounds in [her] immediate environment”: using earphones, using earplugs, and meditation.  We would add:

  • request that loud music be lowered in stores, restaurants, and coffee shops; if the request is denied, leave after telling management that you will not be returning.
  • ask people who are talking loudly in public spaces to lower their voices, particularly if they are in spaces that have been designated as quiet spots (like the quiet cars on Amtrak trains).

We understand that it is difficult for some to ask a waitress or store manager to lower the music volume or, especially, to approach someone and ask them to lower their voice, but until we all do this, unnecessary noise will continue to intrude into our lives.

The Institute of Medicine to issue report on accessible and affordable hearing health care today

Dr. Daniel Fink, a leading noise pollution activist, writes about why the IOM Report Should Consider Prevention of Hearing Loss and not just treatment after injury.