Silencity

The Truth About Noise

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Can Sound Kill You?

The short answer is “yes,” theoretically.  The long answer, thankfully, is that “it would be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to artificially generate a noise loud enough to kill a person.”  Wondering how loud a sound must be to kill and how sound alone could kill a human?  Here are your answers:

[I]’s been speculated that 195 decibels would do the trick. (By comparison, normal conversation registers at 60 dB; an ambulance siren at 10 feet is about 115 dB). At that volume, air pressure fluctuations would be severe enough to damage your lungs, creating lethal air bubbles in the blood or simply causing the lungs to pop like balloons.

Now you know what your nightmare will feature tonight!

Link via @QuietMark.

Can Urban Highways Solve Problems Instead Of Causing Them?

Adele Peters writes about “[a] vision of transportation infrastructure that adds to a city instead of filling it with noise and pollution.”

Link via @jeaninebotta.

An audiologist explains why noise is much more than a mere annoyance.

In “Why City Noise Is a Serious Health Hazard,” Eric Jaffe writes about noise in New York City.  His piece extensively quotes Craig Kasper, chief audiologist at New York Hearing Doctors, who notes how persistent noise complaints have been, citing a 1905 headline in the Times claiming New York to be “the noisiest city on earth.”  Kasper also discusses all of the ways in which noise adversely affects health and wellbeing (e.g., loss of sleep, anxiety, cardiovascular difficulties, etc.), adding that his patients “complain of loud restaurants the most.”  Oddly, this otherwise thoughtful piece concludes with Kasper stating that “noise adds to the charm of New York—and, really, any big city.”  It’s hard to accept that something as potentially damaging as noise can be described as charming.  Still, this short piece is worth a read.

How to limit noise in hospitals

Dr. Brian Goldman discusses the significant health problems caused by noise in hospitals, which has increased since 1960–200% for daytime noise, and an astounding 400% for nighttime noise.  He also addresses the inventive ways hospitals have tried to limit noise exposure, including design changes, instituting quiet hours for napping, and making all rooms private rooms.  Click the link for more.

 

Broadway shows that it cares:

Broadway’s LION KING, ALADDIN and More to Offer Autism Friendly Performances This Year.

Broadway World writes about the Theater Development Fund (TDF), a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, makes autism-friendly theater available through its Autism Theatre Initiative (ATI), which operates under the umbrella of TDF’s Accessibility Programs.  How does the TDF make theater “autism friendly?”  Broadway World explains:

To create an autism-friendly setting, the shows are performed in a friendly, supportive environment for an audience of families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues. Slight adjustments to the production will include reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe lights focused into the audience. In the theatre lobby there will be staffed quiet and play areas, if anyone needs to leave their seats during the performance.

For more information about the ATI or to order tickets for autism-friendly performances, click here.

Thanks to Jenn Leonard for the link.

 

Noise is more than a mere nuisance:

How Noise Pollution Hurts Kids.

Read this fascinating piece by Olga Khazan about researchers who found that children who lived on lower floors in a high-rise building near a highway in Manhattan had a harder time distinguishing words than kids living on higher floors and they were worse at reading.  Frighteningly, “[t]he relationship between the kids’ scores and floor level was strongest for the kids who had lived in the building the longest.”

Noise is more than an annoyance when it can interfere with learning.

 

A common lament:

Dyckman’s deafening daily drumbeat: A local resident is sick of the noise.

Ann Votaw writes about New Yorker’s number one complaint: noise.   Trying to understand out how to stop the noise in her neighborhood, she contacted Arline Bronzaft, a leading environmental psychologist who advised five mayors on the consequences of noise pollution, who stated that “[n]o other city in the United States is more aware of intrusive sound than New York.”  Ms. Bronzaft lauded the city’s 311 system, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the police department “for their dedication to the New York City Noise Code,” she acknowledged that 311 was effective at collecting metrics but was unsure of “how the system executes solutions leading to relief.”

New York City’s Noise Code and 311 system are good steps in combating noise pollution, but the focus must shift to enforcing the code and punishing offenders.  Until noise polluters understand that there are consequences for their actions, they will continue to make life hellish for those around them.

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 is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council.

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.