Tag Archive: jackhammers

Hope (eventually) for New Yorkers:

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To Create a Quieter City, They’re Recording the Sounds of New York.  Emily S. Rueb, The New York Times, reports on the Sounds of New York City, or Sonyc, a joint project by New York University and Ohio State University, which aims to create an aural map that “will help city agencies monitor and enforce noise pollution, and will empower citizens to assist in the process.”  Researchers from both universities “are training [their] microphones to recognize jackhammers, idling engines and street music, using technology originally developed to identify the flight calls of migrating birds.”  Ten-second snippets of audio will be collected, labeled, and categorized “using a machine-listening engine called UrbanEars.”  The researchers hope that the sensors “will eventually be smart enough to identify hundreds of sonic irritants reverberating across the city.”

The program, which is in the first phase of the five-year project, is primarily funded by a $4.6 milion grant from the National Science Foundation.  The article explains how the researchers are capturing the audio snippets, examines the problems inherent in placing the devices used to monitor noise (read: pigeon poop, among other things), and discusses the “antagonizing effects of noise.”  Rueb looks at how the data may be used to help address noise complaints, writing that eventually “an app called Urbane will allow users to interact with the data, while another app will complement 311 reporting and possibly help New Yorkers track how complaints are handled.”

One hopes the program is a success because, as Rueb tells us, the city has only 53 noise inspectors to serve all five boroughs.  It will be interesting to see if the city, armed with the program’s data, will make a serious attempt to enforce its noise ordinances.

 

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.

No surprise here:

.Noise Complaints Rising In New York City.

New York City has a noise code [pdf warning].  It’s pretty comprehensive and is looked to as a model for other cities.  So why the rise in noise complaints?  One reason the article notes is this: Police said writing noise complaint tickets is to an officer’s discretion.

Police probably do not have the training and equipment to properly monitor noise complaints, and noise is probably low on the priority list.  If cities are going to seriously address noise pollution, they need to have a designated team of professionals to investigate noise complaints and issue citations.  Until that happens statutes will rarely be enforced and noise polluters will continue unabated.

Toronto noise activists fight city hall:

Better enforcement needed for noise complaints.

The Toronto Noise Coalition (TNC), unhappy with insufficient enforcement of noise bylaws, released a survey that found that “72% of Torontoians are interested to some degree in the issue of noise pollution.”  The survey, which TNC commissioned, also found that “12% of respondents had filed a noise complaint with the city” and that “two-thirds of complainants were unhappy with the response from the city.”

Part of the reason for the unhappiness, no doubt, is the city’s response to the complaints:

Mark Sraga, of Toronto’s municipal licencing and standards department, says there are 200 officers available to deal with general complaints.  But noise complaints may take a back seat to others in terms of response time.

Sraga added that, “[w]e prioritize, yes.  Life and safety, life and death, those are priority issues.  Noise is not one of those life and safety issues.”  Except that it is.  As Dr. David McKeown, the city’s chief medical officer of heath, notes, “noise causes sleep disturbances, which are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and viral illnesses.”

Long and short, city responses to noise–and not just Toronto–fall short because most city officials don’t see noise as an important issue.  Which means that citizens have to lead this issue and demand that some resources be made available to address noise pollution, which affects quality of life and health.

 

Coming to a film festival near you?

THE FILMMAKERS RECOMMEND YOU WEAR HEADPHONES TO VIEW THIS TRAILER:

Wonderful if true:

The Future Will Be Quiet.  Click through to read Alana Semuels’ piece on “how the cities and suburbs of the future could become quieter, more peaceful places.”  Ms. Semuels’ cause for optimism rests, in large part, on advances in technology.  While technological advances are welcome, and could, one hopes, be part of the solution, the media should focus more attention on hearing health and the dangers of noise so that Americans are moved to protect themselves instead of waiting for a technological panacea.

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.

 

 

Why are construction crews allowed to use their noisiest equipment at 8:00 a.m.?

I’m in my apartment, trying to embrace the day.  In the background I can clearly hear the sound of a jackhammers and something that sounds like the biggest saw known to man.  My guess is that the saw is being used to cut into the sidewalk, while the jackhammers are digging up the street.  At 8:00 a.m.  Hardly a peaceful start to the day.  And then it stops, but not before the world has been jolted to a start with a slap across its face.  Good morning!

Oh wait, it’s starting again.  Off to shower and plan a day away from my home office.

Hope you are enjoying a more pleasant morning.

Turn It Down: How to protect yourself against noise pollution

In “Turn It Down,” Dangerstoppers (Beverly Hills Television) highlights the dangers of noise exposure and its adverse effect on hearing.  The video is very good at informing viewers about dangerous levels of sound and provides tips on how one can limit his or her exposure to noise pollution.  Included in this important piece is Dr. Daniel Fink’s segment on ear plug options for hearing protection.

Thanks to Daniel Fink, M.D., a noise pollution activist in the Los Angeles area, for the video link.  Dr. Fink serves on the board of the American Tinnitus Association.

Noise can cause hyperacusis and tinnitus, but can it also be bad for your heart?

New York Times Health blogger, Nicholas Bakalar, posted a piece on a report by British researchers that suggested that “[c]ontinual exposure to traffic noise may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.”   The study, published in The European Heart Journal, noted that, as compared with average noise levels below 55 decibels, “levels above 60 decibels were associated with higher rates of hospital admissions for stroke — 5 percent higher among people 25 to 74 and about 9 percent higher among those over 75.  All-cause mortality was 4 percent higher for people in noisy neighborhoods.”

As Bakalar notes, 60 decibels is not especially loud as it “is much quieter than most urban environments and many indoor public places like popular restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and sports arenas.”  The  researchers suggest that the cumulative effect of constant noise over years could be significant.

If you have a sound meter on your smart phone, load it up when you are at a restaurant, theater, or gym and look at the decibel level.  My guess is that if most people did this just to get a sense of the normal sound levels they are continually exposed to, they would be stunned.

Research into the affect of noise on health is at the nascent stage, so more attention and funding has to be directed to this emerging and important field of study.  One hopes that once there is some consensus regarding the ill effects of noise on health, that businesses and political bodies will have no choice but to address it.  After all, cities and suburbs are not getting any quieter.

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.

An auspicious start?

Or is that an ironic start?  I posted my first blog entry last evening and shortly after rising this a.m. this is what I saw and heard on the street below my apartment [Note: check your sound levels before pressing play] :

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Nice.  Looks like they will be here all day.  So I’ll be off to find a nice quiet cafe/temporary office for the afternoon.