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Urban Issues

This page includes archived items from January 2002-September 2005. For the most recent archives: [GO THERE]

Sea Lions Raise Ruckus on West Coast - A population explosion among sea lions has coastal residents up in arms, citing obstruction, destruction, and noise issues. The Newport Beach Harbor Commission recently debated the situation, which has taken on added urgency since 18 sea lions piled onto a 37-foot sailboat and sank it over Labor Day weekend. The sheriff's Harbor Patrol has also been inundated with noise complaints."A barking dog doesn't hold a candle to this. It's like 40 barking dogs -- in surround sound," grumbled Balboa Peninsula resident Darci Schriber. Source: LA Times/IndyStar, 9/30/05 [READ ARTICLE]

NASA Project Aims to Quiet Airplanes - NASA and aerospace industry partners are flight testing new technologies to see if they can make aircraft quieter. Scalloped edges on engine exteriors and toboggan-like fittings on landing gear are some of the high tech ideas being tested to reduce aircraft noise. The goal of NASA's Quiet Aircraft Technology project is to reduce perceived aircraft noise by 50 percent in 10 years and by 75 percent in 25 years, using 1997 levels as the baseline. Source: Science Daily, 8/21/05 [READ ARTICLE] NASA Vehicle Systems website [WEBSITE]

Airport Noise Delays Reading Development - A new study of nine and ten year old children living near airports in three countries found each five decibel increase in noise level was linked to children being up to two months behind in their reading age. Other studies have had similar results, including a German study of children living near two airports, one that opened as the other closed. Children attending schools near the (old) airport improved their reading scores and cognitive memory performance as the airport shut down, while children going to school near the new airport experienced a decline in testing scores. In an interesting addendum to the current study, traffic noise did not cause reading delays, and seemed to be linked to better memory and recall. Source: BBC, 6/2/05 [READ ARTICLE]

Carbon Monoxide Increases Risk of Noise-induced Hearing Loss - Workers exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide are more likely to develop high-frequency hearing loss in noisy workplaces, according to a new study. Source: ScienceDaily, 5/22/05 [READ ARTICLE]

Microphone Network to Target Noisy Neighbors - The community of Westminster, England is taking a new approach to cutting down bothersome neighborhood noise--they're creating a microphone system that alerts constables when someone's being noisy. “At the moment the problem is that by the time a noise protection officer arrives on the scene, the noise may have stopped," said Steve Harrison of the Westminster Council. "Using the new system, we can leave a monitor in an area for several days. The idea is that we can pre-empt people having to call us — if the monitor hears a disturbance it lets us know.” Mr Harrison added that the microphones were also going to be placed outside bars and clubs to monitor noise levels and any disturbances. The microphones, which communicate via an internet connection, will be attached to lamp posts across Soho to test the system for the next few months. Source: London Evening Standard, 5/3/05 (courtesy of an alert fan) [READ ARTICLE]

Virginia, North Carolina Play Hot Pototo with Noisy Navy Jets - A Navy plan to base a new generation of "Super Hornet" jet fighters at a new facility near a North Carolina wildlife sanctuary is music to the ears of residents of Virginia Beach, where Navy training already stresses locals. Virginia Beach has been struggling to balance their need for new development with the Navy's desire to limit development and its inevitable complaints about noise. The Navy is looking to buy 30,000 acres in Eastern North Carolina, though court challenges and a resolution by the North Carolina House repealing a century-old law that allows large federal land purchases is slowing the process. Pocosin Wildlife Refuge is home to tundra swans, snow geese, and red wolves. Even if the airfield is built on schedule, it won't open until 2007. The Super Hornets will start arriving in August, and coastal Virginia is bracing for a new level of disruptive noise. "Between the time the Super Hornets arrive and the OLF opens, it's going to be worse than it has ever been," Levenson said. "It's going to be extremely unpleasant." Sources: News and Observer, 3/26//05 [READ ARTICLE] News and Observer series, with several articles, 4/5/05 [READ ARTICLES] NewsObserver, 3/15/04 [READ ARTICLE] Wilmington Star, 3/28/05 [READ ARTICLES] Multimedia image with pictures and sounds of Pocosin Refuge animals [GO THERE]

Fuel Cell Motorcycle Too Quiet - A new fuel cell powered motorcycle has been released in England, but it's extreme quiet (about the volume of a computer fan) has raised concerns that it may be potentially unsafe, as well as, well, not normal: "It fits the definition of a motorcycle, but not as we know it," said Jeff Stone, a spokesman for the British Motorcycle Federation. "The motorcycle is a primitive thing and it appeals to the inner person. The excitement and exhilaration of a bike is why people ride them." Makers Intelligent Energy are looking at ways to produce an artificial engine noise that will alert people to its presence, making sure the machine is not silent and deadly. "We will consider that," said Nick Talbot, the project leader at Seymourpowell, who were hired by Intelligent Energy to design a bike to their brief. Source: ENN/Reuters, 3/16/05 [READ ARTICLE]

Gangs Targeted by Camera/Microphone Combo That Zeroes in on Gunshots - The gangsters who for years have brought violence and fear to Chicago’s west side are being defeated by a network of “listening” cameras that home in on gunfire. Gang members and drug dealers once fired their weapons indiscriminately with little fear of reprisal. Emma Mitts, the alderman in charge of the borough, said: “Before they had the gun detection, let me tell you, it was rough. They were shooting at each other in broad daylight, round schools — gangs getting into gang wars." The cameras can detect a gunshot within a 350m radius and instantly zoom in on the source and the culprit. The image and co-ordinates are sent to a command centre and police move in. Ron Huberman, executive director of Chicago’s emergency management and communications office, says that surveillance helped to reduce murders in Chicago to 447 last year — the lowest since 1965. Cameras alone were not enough, he said. “What this technology does is it makes it incredibly difficult to fire a gun because if you do, we’re on top of you in a second. We are seeing the tangible results of that. There’s a dramatic decrease in firearms-related crimes.” Chicago is the first city to install Sentri (Smart Sensor Enabled Neural Threat Recognition and Identification); it has mounted five Sentris and will add 80 by the end of this year. Los Angeles has begun trials and police in San Francisco, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Atlanta have inquired about the system. Source: London Times, 2/12/05 [READ ARTICLE]

Nationwide Revolt Against Noise - From braying mules to boom cars, ice cream trucks to race tracks, communities are responding to citizen complaints about increasing noise. A comprehensive article by the Christian Science Monitor looks at the many expressions of this theme. At the heart of many local debates is a difficult question: Is there an objective standard for noise that everyone can agree on or is it simply that one man's symphony is another man's cacophony? Charles Barron, a New York City councilman from Brooklyn, says the idea of having Mr. Softee ice cream trucks turn off their jingle targets what he calls a "sound of the city" just to appease an individual's perception of annoyance. "Real loud music - boom cars, car alarms - those are legitimate concerns," says Mr. Barron. "But Mr. Softee? C'mon, that's a bit much." In Placer County, Calif., on the slopes of the Sierra Nevadas, the growth of the suburbs has set up perhaps the inevitable conflict of man versus mule. Late last year, a newcomer sued a neighbor over the nighttime brays of her companion, "Happy." His demand: $100 per bray. Happy's owner prevailed, after other neighbors testified that the mule's rough melody was a legitimate part of the country soundscape. Less controversial are ordinances aimed at "boom cars"; Judy Ellis, of St. Petersburg, Florida, upset over the sound from loud car stereos, got neighborhood permission to put up no-noise signs (they show a figure holding his ears), and she is working with local police in a sting operation to take out what she calls the "54th Avenue Boom Car Parade. We can feel the car coming before we see it," says Ms. Ellis. "There's nowhere to run." Source: Yahoo/Christian Science Monitor, 2/10/05 [READ ARTICLE] Original CSM [READ ARTICLE]

Quieter Airports, Highways On the Way - Innovative research is quieting two of the most widespread sources of human noise: airports and highways. An overview in the current issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, a National Institutes of Health journal, details refinements in jet engine design and road surfacing that are making differences already, with promise of continued improvemetns in the years to come. Source: EHP, January 2005 [READ ARTICLE]
Related - Noise that Annoys: Regulating Unwanted Noise Source: EHP, January 2005 [READ ARTICLE]
Related - Decibel Hell: The Effects of Living in a Noisy World Source: EHP, January 2005 [READ ARTICLE]

Nighttime Noise Levels Unhealthy for Two-thirds of Britons - Two thirds of British residents are subjected to night time noise levels above those recommended by the World Health Organization. "The study has shown that over the 10-year period, there was a significant increase in noise at night," said Chris Skinner, acoustic consultant at the Building Research Establishment and co-author of the report. "The WHO guidelines give a figure that should allow people to sleep with windows open." By contrast, the number of households subjected to excessive daytime noise has fallen in recent years, to 54%, likely thanks to quieter autos. Source: Sunday Times, 11/28/04 [READ ARTICLE]

Move the the Country, Make all the Noise You Want - His neighbors are furious about his noisy, late-night parties and dirt-bike track, but Bill Schoneberger thinks they should butt out of his business. "I don’t want someone telling me to do this and that on my property," said the 29-year-old, who moved to rural Fern Valley Road near Phoenix about seven years ago to avoid rules and restrictions. Indeed, rural areas are far less likely to have noise ordinances than cities. Schoneberger said he did everything by the book in building an off-road track behind his house, contacting the county and alerting the neighbors. "This has just turned into a nightmare," he said. Sheriff Mike Winters said that with no regulations to back them up, deputies don’t have the legal teeth to clamp down on noisy neighbors, although they could potentially cite someone for disorderly conduct. "There’s just not enough laws on the books to handle these problems," he said. Winters is attempting to arrange mediation between Shoneberger and his neighbors. Source: Medford Mail-Tribune, 11/21/04 [READ ARTICLE]

Vibro-acoustic Disorder: Loud Workplace Noise Can Cause Body-wide Symptoms - A man who worked for ten years in the engine room of ferries has been diagnosed with a rare condition caused by long-term exposure to loud noise. Despite wearing protective earphones, Jonathan Arnot began to experience numbing of patches of this skin, muscle twitches, blurred vision, deafness, blinding headaches, loss of bladder control, impotency and irritable bowel syndrome. Neurologists tested him for MS and copper poisoning; it was only after he did research on his own and shared it with his doctors that the proper diagnsis, a rare condition known as Vibroacoustic Disorder (VAD) was settled upon. Arnot, though, suspects that the condition is more likely unsuspected, than rare; "Out of six engine-room staff who worked with me, five had identical symptoms," he said. Source: BBC, 9/27/04 [READ ARTICLE]

UK Groups Organize Against Widespread Airport Expansion Plans - Responding to a government initiative to double the country's airport capacity over the next 20 years, a coalition of environmental organizations is circulating a grassroots Airport Pledge. Individuals who sign the Pledge declare that they will take "personal action" to block airport expansions, and to discourage companies from participating and funding expansion. The groups hope that this active threat of widespread resistance will encourage the government to reconsider their plans, which include expansion of nearly every airport in the UK. Doubling of air transportation is opposed both due to the noise impacts on local communities, and the fact that airplane exhaust is a major contributor to high-level pollution linked with climate change. Source: Airport Pledge press release [SEE WEBSITE]

Indian Noise Pollution Raises Alarms - A new study of noise pollution in the Indian city of Tiruchi has confirmed the obvious with stark numbers: Asian cities are getting dangerously loud. Ambient noise levels on city roads were measured at 92-104dB, much higher than local standards of 65dB for commercial areas. While the increasing vehicular density is found to be the main contributing factor for the high noise levels, "aggressive driving" in low gears and poor maintenance of vehicles have also played a major role. Schools near main roads showed maximum noise levels of 74-89dB, with close to three quarters of both students and teachers complaining of the noise, and over half of the teachers finding it difficult to communicate with their students. Finally, a separate study on the noise levels inside buses, which played tape recorders indicated that the noise level inside exceeded 100 dB. Most of the young passengers and the crew claimed to enjoy listening to the music, unaware of the ill effects of the noise exposure. Source: The Hindi, 6/27/04 [READ ARTICLE]

European Coalition Aims to Build Quieter Airplanes - European research projects to reduce aircraft noise and fuel consumption are zooming along at full speed. A consortium of 51 companies is testing new technologies to reduce aircraft noise by up to six decibels by 2008. Noise is now considered a serious health hazard, not just a nuisance, with a third of Europeans experiencing noise levels that disturb sleep. The European Commission says current research programs expect a reduction in noise to halve jet noise within the next decade. European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said, “Through EU funding and cooperation within the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe technology platform, Europe’s key aircraft manufacturers, research institutes, universities and small-to-medium-sized enterprises are working together to create cheaper, cleaner and quieter aircraft." Source: ENS, 6/23/04 [READ ARTICLE(sub)]

New York City Noise Code Aims to Still Barking Dogs in Five Minutes - A tough new noise code proposed by Mayor Bloomberg sets a high bar for quieting the nation's largest city. Among the provisions of the new approach to urban noise pollution are ticketing owners of dogs who bark for more than five minutes, construction projects would be curtailed on weekends and at night, and ice cream and taco trucks would phase out their "songs", to be replaced by the tiny bells of old. Nightclubs would be given warnings before being fined, and while sound must be audible through a closed door, vibrations would be subject to the proposed law. The legislation represents a continuation of Mr. Bloomberg's fixation with reducing one of the most chronic quality of life problems in the city. Noise is the still the No. 1 such complaint in New York, well ahead of complaints about landlords and blocked driveways; the city's 311 number receives roughly 1,000 calls about noise each day. The City Council will hold hearings on the new code this summer. Source: New York Times, 6/8/04 [ARTICLE NO LONGER FREE ONLINE] New York Magazine, 07/04 (includes great detail and sidebars) [READ ARTICLE]

Hot-rod Exhaust Systems Find Friend in California Legislature; Aim to Take New Law Nationwide - A California State Statute that legalized loud after-market muffler systems is being pushed in other states by the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA), which worked with former California Senator Maurice Johannsen to pass the legislation there. The bill dispenses with hard-to-enforce subjective audibility standards, and sets a 95dB limit on exhaust noise. This figure was based on the sound of big-rig trucks; of course, few big rigs ply neighborhood streets, so the standards amount to legalizing a new peak noise level in many areas. Source: LA Times, 6/2/04 [READ ARTICLE]

South African Factories Face Noise Sweep - This week the labour department's noise police launched a blitz on factories that produce noise which is potentially damaging to workers. They swooped on factories in the textile, engineering and manufacturing industries in the Cape Town metropolitan area as well as parts of the Southern Cape. By Thursday, the department had inspected 186 factories and found only 25 complying with the law. Lamati said factories that did not comply with all the regulations would be given 60 days to do so. "The department will assist them if they need assistance. They will be revisited after 60 days and if they have still not complied they could face prosecution," he said. Darren Tarling, a health and safety officer at Anchor Steel, said he found the department's visits helpful. " It is definitely necessary. In the past the industry has been very lax. We were not aware of the need for medical surveillance and we are happy that the department is coming in and that in future we will know exactly what to do," he said. Occupational health nurse Ria Keene, who is based at the Industrial Health, Audiometric and Medical Screening Services in Mpumalanga, said the institute had dealt with several cases involving noise-induced hearing loss, especially patients from mines and heavy industries. She said new regulations required companies to test a worker's hearing on arrival. Annual testing then determined the degree of deterioration over the years. Source: SundayTimes, 5/30/04 [READ ARTICLE]

McCartney Rehearsals Rile Neighbors - Paul McCartney's rehearsals for an upcoming European tour have raised the hackles of residents across the river from his rehearhsal space. "I rang up the environmental health officers at the council and they told me, 'It's Paul McCartney,' " Pemberton said. "I said 'So what? He doesn't pay my [taxes], and if it was me that was doing this I would have been prosecuted.' I thought it was quite unacceptable and even my cat was disturbed," he added. Geoff Baker, McCartney's spokesman, later apologized and said that Greenwich council had ordered the band to lower its sound level during its remaining week of rehearsals. "We're sorry to hear about his cat because we love animals, but we're confident that when we turn the music back up again for the European tour, everyone else will love it, even the cat," Baker said. Source: Globe and Mail, 5/14/04 [READ ARTICLE]

LA Times In-depth Feature on Noise Issues - This extended LA Times feature story looks at a wide range of noise-related issues, including increasing traffic noise, health effects, research on learning and noise levels, and more. Highly recommended. "Over a deafening roar from heavy trucks on the Long Beach Freeway just 30 feet away, Lewis Failes said he would leave his mobile home in South Gate if he could afford to. Every few seconds, big rigs pass over bumps or dips in the road, jostling their 8,000-pound steel shipping containers and creating what sounds like small explosions. "The ground shakes underneath my home," Failes, a retired draftsman, shouted on his front porch one recent morning. "It goes on all day and all night. I try to listen to music, but the vibrations make my CD player skip. I can't hear it anyway. "It seems to get worse every day." Source: LA Times, 4/22/04 [READ ARTICLE]
Related: BBC "Noisy Planet" program - Available as text-only or Flash presentation; also takes a comprehensive look at noise issues. Source: BBC, 5/04 [WEBSITE]
Related: Toronto Star Take on Noise -
Yet another wide-ranging article on noise. Source: Toronto Star, 5/29/04 [READ ARTICLE]

Calgary Considers Extending Quiet Hours - A new noise by-law, to be considered by the city council later this month, calls for quiet after 9 p.m., instead of 10 p.m. The new hours are being considered because more residents are on an "early to bed, early to rise" schedule in order to commute before the main rush hour. Also, home owners won't be able to operate a snow blower or lawn mower before 7 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. weekends and holidays. Source: CBC, 2/5/04 [READ ARTICLE]
Related: Noise Nazis Take Aim at Calgary - Entertaining rant comparing the new standards to the quiet hours of Trappist Monks. Source: Calgary Sun, 2/6/04 [READ ARTICLE]

Northern Ireland Cracks Down on Nuisance Neighbors - The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has taken on new powers to deal with nuisance neighbours and stop them "blighting the lives of those living nearby." The Housing (NI) Order 2003 will allow Executive bosses to put new tenants on a probationary period, refuse to take on applicants with a history of anti-social behaviour, seek injunctions to keep people who have terrorised their neighbourhoods away from their victims, and have greater powers to repossess houses. Belfast City Council receive more than 400 complaints every year about noise, most involving blaring televisions and loud music. Source: Northern Ireland News, 2/5/04 [READ ARTICLE]

Power Line Upgrade Wakes the Neighbohood - When the Bonneville Power Administration doubled the power being carried by a 13-mile line in Maltby, Washington, residents were quick to notice. The line began emitting a constant sound that residents compared to an idling deisel truck; all 500kv lines make some noise, but this one was clattering and buzzing at levels very close to federal noise limits. After four months of pressure from about 300 families, BPA has identified the cause of the excessive noise: dirt, algae, and moss on the lines. Cleaning a test section brought the noise down to normal levels, and the utility is beginning work to clean the rest. Source: The Daily Herald, 1/28/04 [READ ARTICLE]

Wind Farms Low Frequency Noise Linked to Illness - Onshore wind farms are a health hazard to people living near them because of the low- frequency noise that they emit, according to new medical studies. Doctors say that the turbines can cause headaches and depression among residents living up to a mile away. One survey found that all but one of 14 people living near the Bears Down wind farm at Padstow, Cornwall, where 16 turbines were put up two years ago, had experienced increased numbers of headaches, and 10 said that they had problems sleeping and suffered from anxiety. Source: Sunday Telegraph, 1/25/04 [READ ARTICLE(register)] Save the Vale, 1/25/04 [DOWNLOAD ARTICLE(pdf)]

New York City Wields Big Stick in Noise Crackdown - In October 2002, Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly launched Operation Silent Night to combat excessive noise, targeting 24 high noise neighborhoods throughout the City.  Intensive enforcement measures include the use of sound meters, towing of vehicles, seizure of audio equipment, summonses, fines, and arrests.  Since the initiative was launched, Operation Silent Night has resulted in the issuance of 111,180 summonses (which includes parking violations and moving violations, Criminal Court summonses, and DEP noise violations).  Operation Silent Night has also proven an effective crime-fighting tool, yielding over 7,400 arrests, over 1,100 of which have been felony arrests. Source: NYC Press Release, 12/15/03 [READ PRESS RELEASE]
Related: The latest on the drive to ban car alarms in NY.
Source: Reuters, 1/15/04 [READ ARTICLE]

Europoean Union Says "Quiet" - The European Union is requiring all cities with populations over 250,000 to develop noise maps in an effort to reduce exposure to bothersome and harmful noise levels. Paris leads the way, with maps available online, allowing residents to zoom in and explore sound levels in their own neighborhoods. "It's been an exceptional success," said Paris Deputy Mayor Contassot. "We could doubtless halve the amount of noise. That, to me, seems to be an entirely realistic goal." A WHO report estimated that 40 percent of EU residents -- 150 million people -- are exposed to road traffic noise exceeding 55 decibels (the level that the WHO deems a "serious annoyance") and that over 30 percent suffer noise levels at night that disturb sleep. Brussels has already used its maps to identify people eligible for soundproofing subsidies because of excess traffic noise. Source: AP/Wired News, 12/7/03 [READ ARTICLE]

Company Custom-builds Nearly Silent PCs- A Vancouver, Washington-based company is marketing personal computers that are nearly silent. In response to complaints about the increasing noise of computer fans, NW Custom Computers has joined a handful of computer makers around the world in specializing in quieting the PC. Slower-speed fans, quieter drives, and larger cases with better ventilation can bring noise levels down to 26dB, just 6dB above the average threshold of human hearing. Source: Reuters/Wired News, 11/9/03 [READ ARTICLE]
Related: Concern Grows about PC Noise -
Wired News 5/13/02 [READ ARTICLE]

Soundwalks Open Ears to Local Neighborhoods - Local soundwalk events were held this fall on both sides of North America. A Vancouver arts initiative is sponsoring a series of soundwalks led by Hildegard Westerkamp, while the New York-based TreeTheater project is sponsoring an "Extreme Slow Soundwalk" on November 1, combining techiniques from Westerkamp and Pauline Oliveros. Sources: Vancouver Sun, 9/24/03 (very good article/interview) [READ ARTICLE] Press release, TreeTheater, 10/20/03 [WEBSITE]

Barking Ordinance Has Bite - In Lake County, California, a new law aims to put the bite on dogs whose barking annoys neighbors. Fines range from $100 to $500, leading most dog owners to take rapid steps to quiet their dogs when neighbors call the animal control office. While some choose to give their dogs up to adoption, many pursue effective retraining methods, including squirting their dots with water when they bark, or using collars that shock the dogs after a bark. Landlords whose renters own problem dogs can be face property liens of up to $100 per day. Source: Record-Bee, 8/2/03

Twin Cities Sounds Inspire New Map - As part of a city-wide consideration of urban design, a series of maps has been created that feature community gardens, distinctive odors, and sound. The sound map is two-sided: one side is a variation on a topographic map, plotting the decibel level of received sound throughout the city (well, at over 400 locations...). The other side highlights fifty locations where favorite or ear-catching sounds were recorded, as featured on the CD that is included with the map. Source: LA Times, 9/3/03 [READ ARTICLE] NPR All Things Considered, 9/3/03 [HEAR STORY(RA)]

Changing Shape of Supersonic Planes Can Dampen Sonic Booms - Recent NASA tests have confirmed that slight changes in the shape of the nose and underbelly of supersonic jets can dramatically decrease the intensity of the sonic booms caused when the planes break the sound barrier. The new shapes could allow supersonic jets to travel over land without being a nuisance, and increase the stealth of military jets. Source: AP, 9/6/03 [READ ARTICLE]

New Canadian Law Cracks Down on Loud Speedboats - A new law targets one of the leading causes of complaints in Canadian "cottage country": fancy speedboats with multiple engines and exceedingly loud exhaust systems. The new law aims to increase effectiveness by shifting its standard from a decibel measurement, to a description of exhaust systems that must be fitted with mufflers, and can only be operated five miles or more off-shore (the boats have a "silent switch" that allows lower-power operation near shore); boat owners can be fined when their boats are operated, or even docked, without mufflers. Source: Toronto Globe and Mail, 8/18/03 [READ ARTICLE]

Cowbells Banned at Basketball Games - The Southeastern Conference has instituted a new rule that will banish cowbells from Mississippi State's home arena, where the crowd had become accustomed to raising a din in support of their team. Source: Starkville Clarion Register, 8/22/03 [READ ARTICLE]

New York City to Overhaul Noise Code - New York is beginning the process of revising the city's noise code for the first time since the 1970s. In many parts of the city, formerly industrial neighborhoods have been converted to residential use, and some residents feel that the existing noise limits are inappropriate. Souce: NY Post, 9/8/03 [READ ARTICLE]
Related: New Yorkers Face Increased Hearing Loss - A study of 100,000 New Yorkers shows that hearing loss affects 15-50% more of the city's elderly than twenty years ago. The increase is blamed on the increasing noise of city life; among the causes cited are restaurants and subways that routinely reach 90dB. "We're seeing more wear and tear on the ear from more exposure to noise," said Dr. Kelvin Lee at NYU Medical Center. Source: New York Daily News, 7/21/03 [READ ARTICLE]
The city of Vancouver, BC, has instituted new limits on leafblowers. All units must operate at less than 65dB, and hours of operation are limited when within 50m (150ft) of property lines. Source: QuietList, 7/25/03 [READ ORDINANCE]
Related: New York City Council Considers Car Alarm Ban - "A burglar alarm combines in its person all that is objectionable about a fire, a riot, and a harem, and at the same time has none of the compensating advantages," wrote Mark Twain in 1882. Two city councilors are leading a bid to rid New York City of aftermarket car alarms, one of the many sonic plagues of urban areas. A recent Environmental Protection Committee hearing approved of the measure, which will now go before the full council. Source: Gotham Gazette, 7/7/03 [READ ARTICLE] CBS-TV (NY), 6/11/03 [SEE REPORT(ra)]

Quietude, Youthful Partying at Odds in Canadian Cottage Country - Changing demographics in Ontario's "Cottage Country" is causing conflicts in the long-established rural lakeside communities. While peace and tranquility was the leading reason for residents to spend time in cottage country (50% cited quiet as their leading desire, compared to 38% wanting family time), a rising minority, currently 9%, come to the lakes to "party and let loose." "It's not just the late-night partying, it's noise in general that people seem to be concerned about, whether it's from music or from motorized boats," said Sherry Chris, Royal LePage vice-president."Cottage country isn't what it used to be. You have younger buyers, and you have more fractional or part-time ownership, so there is the potential for more wild weekends than there used to be." Source: The Star, 5/16/03 [READ ARTICLE]

Sri Lanka Cracks Down on Noise - The city of Colombo, Sri Lanka has issued strict new noise limits and initiated a crackdown on mosques, temples, school playgrounds, and clubs that exceed the limits. But unlike cities worldwide which have issued similar decrees, and then relied on overworked police to follow up, the Municipal Council has deployed 12 Health Inspectors to monitor sound, follow up on complaints, and issue citations, with 10 more sound specialist inspectors in training. Source: Colombo Sunday Observer, 6/8/03 [READ ARTICLE]

Noise Takes Toll on Stress Levels - A wide-ranging article exploring ways that increased noise causes stress and other health issues. Source: Seattle Times, 6/16/03 [READ ARTICLE]

Memphis Fights Noise for Sixty Years - An interesting column which summarizes anti-noise action and ordinances in Memphis, beginning in the 1940's. Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal, 6/1/03 [READ ARTICLE]

New System Turns Down Excessive Club Noise - A new sound dampening system has been developed that is designed to monitor the sound near nightclubs, and automatically turn down the soundboard output levels when sounds reach illegal levels in the surrounding neighborhood. Source: Toronto Globe and Mail, 4/26/03 [READ ARTICLE]

Tailpipe Whistlers Raise Ire in Oakland - A new customization option, whistling tips attached to the end of tailpipes, has drawn fire in Oakland. A high-pitched wail livens up the downtown soundscape with each passing car outfitted with the new device. "They're as annoying as hell," Oakland police Lt. Dave Kozicki said. "The first time I got a call about one, three months ago, I thought the guy was nuts. Then I was driving down the street, heard one, and realized what the guy was talking about. Now you hear them everywhere. They're ridiculous." Kozinski says the devices violate several noise and vehicle ordinances, and is recommending that the police department contact auto shops to remind them that the devices are illegal, and that violators be targeted with "fix it" tickets. Source: Oakland Tribune, 2/20/03 [READ ARTICLE]
Followup: Whistlers Face Ban - The California State Senate has passed a bill that would ban whistlers. Source: Oakland Tribune, 8/27/03 [READ ARTICLE]

8th Annual Noise Awareness Day Planned for April - April 30th will mark the 8th annual Noise Awareness Day, sponsored by the League for the Hard of Hearing. Local events are planned in many cities, including 60 Seconds of No Noise from 2:15 - 2:16 p.m., regardless of location, town meetings to "sound off on noise" and use of the "Stop That Noise" curriculum in schools. Source: League for the Hard of Hearing [WEBSITE] [PRESS RELEASE]

Are Movies Too Loud? - Tests in Canadian theaters show that while peak volumes are very high (90-100dB), the average sound levels are tolerable. According to theater operators, overall sound levels are down from the early days of digital sound; further, the peaks, generally during special effects scenes, cannot be avoided without making the quieter sections hard to hear. And, unsurprisingly, the previews are the louder than the movies. Source: CBC Marketplace, 2/8/03 [READ ARTICLE]

UK Environment Department releases Report on Low Frequency Noise - The British Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs has released an 88-page research survey on the effects of low frequency noise on humans, including sections on sleep disturbance, strees, annoyance, individual variability in susceptibility, and cases of LF disturbances. [DOWNLOAD REPORT(pdf)]

Can You Turn That Down, Please? - Wide-ranging overview of noise issues from Wired news; includes mention and links regarding boom cars, occupational noise, tinnitus, and HEAR, a group working to protect rock musicians from hearing loss. Source: Wired Online, 2/15/03 [READ ARTICLE]

A Stroll Through Toronto with a Hearing-loss Specialist - "We took a stroll around town the other day and took sound-measurement levels. Here's what we found on a relatively quiet afternoon: Front Street across from the Crown Plaza: 74 decibels. In the St. Andrew subway station as a train came in: 80 decibels with a spike of 100 when the brakes squealed. Around the curve to King Station: 82 decibels, with the screaming of the wheels peaking at 88 decibels. I winced. It hurt. According to provincial guidelines, the ideal noise level in Toronto ought to be somewhere around 55 decibels. The old City of Toronto kinda-sorta followed those guidelines; the new city has yet to come to grips with noise. We are deaf to any talk about damage to our ears." Source: Toronto Globe and Mail, 10/27/02 [READ STORY]

New Rules Will Quiet European Workplaces - New rules adopted by the European Union will lower sound levels at which workers recieve protections such as sound-dampening devices and hearing tests. The new regulations set standards that kick in at sound levels of just over half of the previously accepted levels. Source: Trades Union Congress press release, 10/22/02 [READ PRESS RELEASE]

Japanese Citizens Win Lawsuit over Noise Pollution from US Air Base - Neighbors of a US Air Base near Tokyo received a 22 million dollar award from the court, in compensation for past health problems caused by excessive noise. Source: Space Daily, 10/17/02 [READ STORY]

New York City Begins Noise Crackdown - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced a sweeping new initiative to crack down on urban noise pollution. Operation Silent Night (pretty optimistic name, eh?) commenced on October 4, and will focus on 24 areas where there has been a concentration of noise complaints. The city's Quality of Life Hotline has fielded over 90,000 noise complaints this year; less than 20% of the Hotline's calls are for other quality of life issues such as drug dealing, grafiti, or prostitution. Source: New York City Press Release, 10/2/02. [READ PRESS RELEASE]
Press Coverage:
[READ CROSSFIRE TRANSCRIPT] {after third "comercial break"} [SEE ABC NEWS STORY]
Related: New York's crackdown is part of a nationwide resurgance of interest in noise pollution issues. See the Urban Issues section for news reports from other cities. [GO THERE]
On a Ligher Note: Tom Tomorrow ("This Modern World") has a solution for curbing out of control car alarms [SEE CARTOON]

Boom Cars Spur Justice Department Study - A 50-page study recently released by the US Justice Department is aimed at providing local law enforcement personnel with resources to address the noise issues surrounding the popularity of "boom cars." Among the topics covered: Highly amplified car stereos emit a lot of low-frequency sounds through the systems' woofer speakers. Low-frequency noise is usually found to be more annoying than high-frequency noise at similar volume. The vibrations caused by the low-frequency sound waves can often be felt in addition to being heard. They cause glass and ceramics to rattle, compounding the annoyance; overexposure to noise is now understood to have a number of negative health and behavioral effects. Source: Quiet List, Noise Free America, May 2002 [DOWNLOAD REPORT] (requires Acrobat Reader) [VISIT NOISE FREE AMERICA WEBSITE] [VISIT RIGHT TO QUIET WEBSITE]

Kokomo, Indiana Funds Research into Low Frequency "hum" - Residents in many areas have reported sensitivity to contant low-frequency noise from unidentified sources, the "Taos Hum" in New Mexico being one of the better known. But in Kokomo, Indiana, city officials are listening. They recently committed $100,000 to study similar sounds heard by some area residents. The sounds are described as being like the idling of a tractor-trailer's deisel engine. Source: AP, via Guardian of London, May 21, 2002. [READ FULL ARTICLE] [LOCAL KOKOMO ARTICLES ON HUM] [ABC NEWS STORY] Source: Indianapolis Star, 10/29/02 [READ ARTICLE]

An Integrated European Union policy About Noise Pollution - On July 27, the European Commission began working toward addressing noise pollution in a coherent, integrated way throughout the European Union. The first step will be to outline the various impacts of noise pollution, with plans for creaing "noise maps" of the entire EU being discussed. This initiative is envisioned to form the basis for development of action plans and strategies at local, national and EU levels to combat noise pollution. For more information, visit the EU Commission. [GO THERE]
European Union Parliement Passes Noise Pollution Directive - In the first step aimed to bring the many differing noise standards throughout Europe into more cohesive form, the EU parliement passed a measure that contains a binding commitment to and a clear timetable for follow-up legislation to tackle the major sources of noise pollution across the EU, in particular rail, road and air traffic and building sites. Source: MP Press Release, GreenSkies website, 5/15/02 [WEBSITE] [DOWNLOAD PR(doc)] [DOWNLOAD 2ND PR(doc)]

Report on Effects of Aircraft Noise from USAF Bases in Okinawa - Two US Air Force bases in Okanawa have created increasingly severe noise pollution over the past several decades. This report, by the Asahikawa Medical College, details effects including hearing loss, reduced birth weight in babies, impact on genreral health, and behavioral problems in children. [GO THERE]

Maine City Moves Against Loud Motorcycles - Portland, Maine Police Chief Michael Chitwood has joined in a City Council move to address noise problems from extra-loud motorcycles. "This is not anti-motorcycle. This is a pro-quality-of-life issue," Chitwood said. "They're taking factory motorcycles and changing the muffler systems to make these obnoxious noises." The proposed new ordinance could lead to confiscation of bikes that have been illegally modified. Source: The Portland Press Herald, 9/19/02 [READ FULL ARTICLE]

Boom Cars Spur Justice Department Study - A 50-page study recently released by the US Justice Department is aimed at providing local law enforcement personnel with resources to address the noise issues surrounding the popularity of "boom cars." Among the topics covered: Highly amplified car stereos emit a lot of low-frequency sounds through the systems' woofer speakers. Low-frequency noise is usually found to be more annoying than high-frequency noise at similar volume. The vibrations caused by the low-frequency sound waves can often be felt in addition to being heard. They cause glass and ceramics to rattle, compounding the annoyance; overexposure to noise is now understood to have a number of negative health and behavioral effects. Source: Quiet List, Noise Free America, May 2002 [DOWNLOAD REPORT] (requires Acrobat Reader) [VISIT NOISE FREE AMERICA WEBSITE] [VISIT RIGHT TO QUIET WEBSITE]

Quiet is Top Reason for Move from City - Why do people move from urban centers into suburban areas? Most experts assume it's for better schools and less crime. A survey in Michigan found that while about half did seek these changes, the leading reason for a move was to have more quiet. 87% of respondents listed quiet as an important factor in their choice of a new home. Source: Lansing State Journal, 10/1/02. [READ ARTICLE]

Movie Theaters Too Loud, Hearing Specialists Say - Studies of sound levels in movie theaters have raised alarms among hearing specialists. While pinpointing damage is difficult in transitory exposures, measured sound levels were above safe thresholds. Source: Scripps Howard News Service, 9/12/02 [READ ARTICLE]

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