The sound, a whistle, is so powerful its vibrations can be picked up from space. By machines. Humans can’t hear it because the sound, at “nearly ’30 octaves below the bottom of a piano,” is beyond human hearing range.
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.
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.”
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.
Well, you are not alone: there’s a weird humming noise that has been heard around the world.
What does this mystery hum sound like? According to Dr. Glen MacPherson:
The classic description is that it sounds like there is a truck idling outside your home. For some people, it is a deep and distant droning bass tone. Some people perceive the sound as a rumbling noise. The sound is louder indoors than outdoors, and louder late at night than during the afternoon. It can suddenly appear or dissappear (sic) for days or months.
For more information about the hum, go to MacPherson’s appropriately named website, The Hum.
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.
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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?
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.
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.
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.