making them more vulnerable to predators. Joanna Lawrence, Natural Science News, reports that researchers have found that “noise pollution prevents songbirds from hearing and responding to alarm calls.” The researchers discovered that anthropogenic noise, “a form of noise pollution caused by human activities,” makes it difficult for the songbirds to hear alarms, leaving them “vulnerable to predation” (i.e., being eaten by other animals). The research showed that the birds’ failure to hear and respond to alarms caused them “to continue feeding in dangerous situations.” More research is needed, adds Lawrence, to “fully understand the ecological impacts of anthropogenic noise.”
Inside the science of negative sound effects, and what we can do about them.Mother Jones, writes about our increasingly noisy world and how this noisy soundscape is “contributing to stress-related diseases and early death, especially in and around cities.” The problem is that ‘[b]y evolutionary necessity, noise triggers a potent stress response.” Williams explains that “[o]ur nervous systems react to noises that are loud and abrupt…by instructing our bodies to boost the heart rate, breathe less deeply, and release fight-or-flight hormones.” While this response may have saved us from predators way back when, today they increase our stress hormones, which adversely affects our health. Williams adds that studies on children and noise exposure show that “children with chronic aircraft, road traffic or rail noise exposure at school have poorer reading ability, memory, and academic performance on national standardised tests.”
The article is very interesting and one of the better mainstream media pieces on noise and its effect on human health. Additionally, Williams touches on an important topic that gets very little attention. Namely, Williams discusses the uneven impact of noise on disadvantaged communities:
You can probably guess which communities face the greatest sonic barrage: the same ones stuck with the worst air, the shoddiest housing, and so on. Noise as a social justice issue is just beginning to gain traction.
Click the first link to read the entire article. It is well worth your time.
Link via @livequiet (Quiet Revolution).
The National Resources Defense Council asks: Can noise pollution affect the way mongooses sniff out their enemies? The answer appears to be “Yes.”
Negative Effects of Loud Noise on Our Bodies. Eleni Roumeliotou, Primal Baby, writing for Mother Earth News, looks at the significant negative effects of noise. Roumeliotou states that a “study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in 2004, reports that a single session of exposure to very loud noise (100 decibels) for 12 hours caused a significant increase of DNA fragmentation in the adrenal gland cells.” Distressingly, even though “[c]ells possess sophisticated molecular tools to repair DNA breaks” within 15 minutes to two hours generally, when exposed to the single exposure in the loud noise study, “cells were unable to repair their DNA even after a day of not being exposed to noise.”
And there’s more. Click the link above to read about the effect of noise on the cardiovascular system.
Link via Quiet Communities.
Loud Noises Are Slowly Ruining Your Health. David Hillier, writing for Vice, examines the effects of noise pollution on health, noting that the World Health Organization (WHO) considers noise pollution “the second biggest environmental cause of health problems in humans after air pollution.” You’ll note that the WHO says “health problems” and not hearing problems, because noise pollution doesn’t just affect hearing. As Hillier writes, “[s]tudies from 2012 suggested [noise pollution] contributed to 910,000 additional cases of hypertension across Europe every year and 10,000 premature deaths related to coronary heart diseases or strokes.” Click the link above for more.
Noise levels in nightclubs may induce hearing loss. News Medical reports that “researchers in Southern California have found that the average continuous level of noise in some nightclubs is at least 91.2 dBA (A-weighted decibels).” Again, this is not a surprise, but what is surprising is a statement researchers made about noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Namely, the researchers found that “[c]lub goers may suffer noise-induced hearing loss from just one night out on the town.” That’s right, if a club is loud enough, you could suffer a lifetime of hearing loss from one exposure. Don’t be a statistic, if you are going to hit the clubs be forewarned and forearmed–bring ear plugs so you can have fun and preserve your hearing.
Not necessarily. Debbie Clason, staff writer at Healthy Hearing, introduces her readers to a friend of this site, noted noise activist Dr. Daniel Fink, who is on a mission “to educate the public about safe noise levels in their environment so they can affect positive change in their communities.” Clason reports:
Dr. Fink doesn’t believe hearing loss is a function of normal physiological aging, citing quieter, primitive societies where hearing acuity is preserved in older adults. He likens attitudes about hearing loss to those about tooth loss in previous generations. Just as natural teeth work better than dentures he says, natural hearing works better than hearing aids.
The article generally discusses noise-induced hearing loss, how it is 100% preventable, and what one can do to avoid it. It is well worth a click.
As another California city mulls ban on blowers of all types. No doubt some people may wonder why others dedicate time and energy fighting something that seems fairly innocuous, at best, and merely annoying, at worst. But leaf blowers are not just an annoyance. Quiet Communities, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting our health, environment, and quality of life from the excessive use of industrial outdoor maintenance equipment, has documented the substantial health hazard leaf blowers pose to the health of the operator, those in the vicinity of the activity, and even our pets, too.
So hearing that Ojai, California is considering banning all blowers, both gas-powered and battery-powered, is encouraging. And yes, there will be push back, but in the end the only reason not to ban leaf blowers is that the alternatives are more expensive. A fact that is only true if you only consider the additional labor cost and ignore the savings to health and wellbeing.
These little boys aren’t working in noisy factories. They aren’t going to the shooting range. They aren’t going to a rock concert. They are just doing things that normal little boys like to do, going to an air show or watching daddy swim. But Prince George’s parents and Boomer’s parents know one important thing: NOISE CAUSES DEAFNESS.
Dr. Fink states that the places and events parents bring their children to–whether by choice or circumstance–are often loud enough to damage hearing permanently. Unlike British royalty or Olympic athletes, most parents simply don’t know that their children could suffer permanent hearing damage by being in a loud place with no hearing protection. Dr. Fink believes that the lack of warnings highlights a general failure by the medical community, which should be advising parents to protect their children’s hearing. He notes that respected online parenting resources make no general recommendations about protecting children from noise, mentioning only the dangers of infant sound machines for babies and loud music for teens.
It’s not just the medical community that is failing children. Federal and state governments do little to inform citizens of the danger loud noise poses to health or to protect them from noise exposure. There is very little regulation of noise in public spaces and absolutely no oversight of consumer products that can damage hearing.
Dr. Fink states that “there is an increase in hearing loss in young people, perhaps because parents don’t know the dangers of noise for hearing.” He notes that race cars produce sound up to 130 decibels, air shows can produce sound up to 130 decibels, rock music concerts can reach 110-115 decibels, action movies range between 100-125 decibels, and sporting events can be loud, too, at 100-120 decibels.
Children can also be exposed to loud noise at home. Personal listening devices can reach up to 115 decibels, a sound level that is guaranteed to damage hearing if exposure is more than a few minutes, and yet there is no government mandated warning for the purchasing public. In addition, there are headphones marketed specifically for children that use a 85 dBA occupational noise exposure limit as a volume limit to prevent hearing loss.
“The commonly cited safe noise level of 85 decibels is really an industrial-strength occupational noise level developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for workers,” says Dr. Fink. He adds that “even with strict time limits of noise exposure, some workers exposed to this noise level will develop hearing loss. One thing is for sure: 85 decibels is not a safe environmental noise exposure level for the public and certainly not for children.”
And Dr. Fink has an impressive ally in his fight against the misuse of the 85 decibel industrial-strength standard. In May 2016 , the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted content addressing Environmental Noise Exposure and Health, in which it stated that in 1974 the Environmental Protection Agency recommended that the average daily noise exposure be limited to an average of 70 decibels for a whole day, with no more than one hour at 85 decibels. The CDC noted that World Health Organization also “recommend[ed] that noise exposure levels should not exceed 70 dB over a 24-hour period, and 85 dB over 1 hour period to avoid hearing impairment.”
So what can you do to protect your children’s hearing? Treat noise like you treat sun exposure. When you take your child to the beach, you protect his or her eyes and skin by giving them sunglasses, a hat, and by applying sunscreen. If noise caused vision loss instead of hearing loss, everyone would be more vigilant in addressing it. So apply the same degree of vigilance when your child will be exposed to noise as you would when your child is exposed to full sun. Dr. Fink advises that the best thing a parent can do is to not bring a child, at whatever age, to loud events. “If that can’t be avoided,” he cautions, “then at the least protect your child’s hearing with ear muff style hearing protectors.” That is, follow what Prince George’s parents and Boomer Phelps’ parents do. Dr. Fink, a father of two, adds that, “the best way to make sure your kids do something is for you to model the behavior yourself. If it’s loud enough for your children to be wearing hearing protection, you should be wearing it too.”
Hearing loss. , writing for PBS News Hour, examines hearing loss, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified as “the most common work-related injury with approximately 22 million workers exposed annually to hazardous levels of occupational noise.” ‘[I]n an effort to reduce these numbers,” she writes, “the Labor Department launched a challenge earlier this summer called ‘Hear and Now,’ in which it is soliciting pitches for innovative ideas and technology to better alert workers of hazardous noise levels.”
Critics have countered that technology to address the problem already exists. The real problem, they claim, is that the maximum noise exposure level and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations are outdated. Among other things, the OSHA regulations “use sound level limits that don’t factor in the noise exposures that occur beyond the workplace — at restaurants, concerts and sporting venues, for instance — that can add to workers’ cumulative risks of harm.” OSHA officials offered that “the agency will issue a request for information later this year about current regulations at construction sites to figure out if more stringent protections are needed and how companies are complying,” but Tan notes that “[a] similar call for information was issued in 2002, but no changes resulted from the action.”
Tan suggests that employers will have to assume more responsibility in educating workers, as some workers do not use hearing protection at work because they are not aware of the risk. Click the link above to learn more, including Tan’s report about Jeff Ammon, a former construction worker who can no longer work due to hearing loss and hyperacusis, a condition marked by sensitivity to environmental noise.