Tag Archive: Boston

Is Boston too noisy? One city councilor says “Yes!”

Photo credit: Henry Han licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This report from Boston.com reports that city councilor at-large Althea Garrison is concerned about the adverse health impacts of high urban noise levels.

She’s right to be concerned. There can be no rational doubt that urban noise levels in many American cities are high enough to damage hearing, disrupt sleep, and cause hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and stress.  Anything that interferes with or disrupts sleep will cause adverse health and productivity impacts.  And noise causes stress and anxiety, too.

Kudos to Councilwoman Garrison for looking out for her fellow Bostonians. If enough people in other cities complain to their elected officials about noise, I can guarantee that laws will be enacted and enforced to make cities quieter. Because if it sounds too loud, it IS too loud.

Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He 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. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.

Is Boston getting too noisy?

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Is Boston getting too noisy? The Boston Curbed site has asked its readers to weigh in.

It’s been a few years since I’ve visited Boston, so I don’t know if it’s quieter than other similar-sized American cities, but my guess is that the answer will be “yes.”

Urban noise is a major health problem, causing hearing loss in urban dwellers and non-auditory health problems–hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and death.

Much if not most of urban noise is transportation noise–aircraft noise, as Boston Curbed points out, road traffic noise, and for those living near tracks railroad noise–but music from restaurants, bars, and clubs for those living near them, horn-based alerts, and any other noise that disrupts sleep is a health hazard as well.

We can’t return to a bucolic rural past, so noise is an inevitable part of modern life, but there is much that can be done relatively inexpensively to turn down the volume of modern life.

Starting literally with turning down the volume of amplified music in restaurants and stores, but also in terms of enforcement of vehicle sound laws, street plantings, and many other urban design features.

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.

Did you know that older aircraft could be retrofitted to reduce noise while landing?

airplane

Yes they can, and members of Massachusetts’ Congressional delegation are asking JetBlue to retrofit older aircraft with noise-reducing equipment to make their descent into Logan International Airport less disruptive.

The bigger problem is the “new navigation system deployed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that concentrates more planes into narrower flight paths.”  As a result, complaints have spiked at communities surrounding airports all across the country.  So while retrofitting may bring some relief to beleaguered Bostonians, ultimately the FAA’s NextGen program needs a major overhaul, and one that includes participation by citizens adversely impacted by the program.  Fortunately, things seem to be moving in that direction as “the FAA and the Massachusetts Port Authority — which operates Logan — said they were creating a task force to investigate flight patterns and noise problems.”

 

2016 Greater Boston Noise Report Issued.

Erica Walker, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has been “measuring sound levels and conducting the Greater Boston (now National) Neighborhood Noise Survey within the Greater Boston Area,” for the past year.  On Monday, October 24, 2016, she issued a report updating key findings from her research, releasing the first comprehensive noise assessment of the Greater Boston Community since 1971.  Walker’s noise assessment is interactive, allowing the user to look at the survey results, soundscapes, spatial and interactive maps of sound levels, and a neighborhood report card.  It’s an interesting approach to noise assessment, and it’s exciting to hear that she is currently conducting a National Neighborhood Noise Survey.

If you’d like to participate Erica Walker’s National Neighborhood Noise Survey 2020, click here.

City noise pollution

Harvard student mapped Boston’s noise pollution by neighborhood.

Bostom.com reports:

Erica Walker, a student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is trying to figure out how all that noise might be affecting its residents. In doing so, she’s discovered that not all sounds in Boston are created equal. Nor are all neighborhoods.

In order to better determine the Boston soundscape, she “started exploring the city at large with a boom mic and a mission: to better understand the distribution of noise in Boston.”  In the process, Walker also learned that “each neighborhood revealed its own unique noise structure.”

Walker will be issuing report cards detailing the soundscape of each neighborhood in September, giving Boston residents “the opportunity to find out precisely what might be keeping them up at night, or causing that perpetual migraine, or making them restless.”   And that, Walker hopes, is when change may come.   “I don’t think these cities will ever be [completely] quiet,” she said. “But they can be less loud.”