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Psychological Disturbance: Noise Reducing

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    Psychological Disturbance: Social ComplaintsA noise need not be at all loud to be disturbing. Think of the dripping tap. I have known musicians, for instance, whose ire is immediately aroused if they enter a room where background music is present. Others may be irritated by the sound of a certain voice, a neighbour’s pet, or even the modest hum of a computer.

    Regardless of the magnitude of annoying sounds, there is no doubt that public complaints everywhere are on a massive upward swing. Noise complaints received by Environmental Health Officers in Britain more than doubled between 1983 and 1992, and complaints against aircraft noise quadrupled. In Rio de Janeiro, 60 percent of all public complaints in 1998 were noise-related. According to the U.S. Census, noise ranks higher than crime, traffic and public services as a cause of dissatisfaction with urban environments. When New York City opened a hot line for complaints, 70 percent of all calls dealt with noise, far above those concerned about crime, alcohol, or prostitution, much to the surprise of public officials.

    Whatever its effects on health, as a psychological irritant noise is moving to the top position in modern society. As a former U.S. SPrevious research in the United States and Britain has shown that when ten people are exposed to loud noise, only two will complain to officials. Researchers discovered that the other eight let it pass. Not because they were not upset; they were, but because they felt complaining would do no good. Not so today. Today, people are raising concerns about noise at a growing rate. The popular press has published much information on the links between noise and our health, and noise and the deterioration of our quality of life. It could be that we are so stressed as a society that people are reaching for any way to get more “peace and quiet”. Think of real estate ads for a moment; they always advertise “quiet street”, they never say “a nice noisy street”. And don’t think that noise is a recent concern. Noise bylaws were in place in Greek and Roman times. Consider this quote from Roman poet Juvenal: “How much sleep, I ask you, can one get in lodging here… The wagons thundering past, the shouts of draymen caught in traffic – these alone suffice to jolt the doziest sea-cow of an emperor into permanent wakefulness”. When Is Noise A Problem?Noise is “unwanted sound”. Any sound from any source whatsoever: human, animal or thing, can produce “unreasonable noise”. The saying that “one person’s music is another person’s noise” is irrelevant. If any sound is: ? Routine and predictable for long periods of time (week after week) or is occasional but excessive. ? Distracts and/or restricts you from the normal use of property (owned or rented). ? Would disturb a “reasonable person”. … then you have a noise problem. Some General Advice? Many people are disturbed by all noise. We must be “reasonable”, meaning no one is entitled to absolute quiet, particularly in urban areas. Since we all benefit from technology, a certain leeway is required when we object to noise. The more public the noise ie. planes, transit etc., the lower your chance of a successful fight (presently). ? Determining when noise is disturbing is highly subjective. In both enforcement and civil law, there is NO consistency of interpretation, collecting evidence, presentations or rulings in court. There are no national or international standards or procedures. So your chances of resolving a noise concern will always be unpredictable. ? KEY: Proving that your health has been negatively affected is the key to winning! This is a new angle; before, loss of use of property was the only criterion. ? Unfortunately, most enforcement groups do not take noise complaints seriously. Due to budget cutbacks, noise enforcement will be further reduced. Noise has always had an image problem; of not being a credible issue. Perhaps because we can’t see it, we don’t take it as seriously as air or water pollution. Noise pollution is increasing each year and doubling every ten years. No one is monitoring the cumulative amount of noise pollution. There are three ingredients in the equation that make noise a growing health and social problem: 1. Urban intensification (living closer together, less acoustical privacy). 2. Technology (stereos, leaf blowers, jet skis, planes, consumer product etc.). 3. Erosion of social consideration for others and the rise of individual rights versus community rights (I’ll do what I want on my property thank-you…). Factor these together and you get a lethal mix. People kill each other over noise. There are approximately forty- five noise-related murders a year in Britain. Noise drives people to assault each other, trespass on and vandalize others’ property. Uncalculated millions of taxpayer dollars are spent on noise enforcement, civil and criminal court cases, hospital bills, purchase of soundproofing products and services, doctor’s care due to stress, and on and on. Noise problems continue to escalate in our modern world. We must unite, develop noise-reduction strategies, and pave the way for a quieter way of life. General said, “Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience.”Take a moment to answer the following questions: ? Do you experience rapid heartbeat, stomach cramps and/or diarrhea at the onset of noise? ? Do you sometimes tremble uncontrollably and break out into a cold sweat when exposed to unwanted noise? ? Do you feel an overwhelming sense of anger toward the person causing the noise? Do you entertain violent fantasies about that person? ? Do you get angry and upset just thinking about noise even when everything is quiet for the moment? ? Are you ever exposed to noise levels above 85 decibels? If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of the above questions, chances are noise is harming your health. How Can Noise Make You Ill?Noise can affect your body in three ways: hearing loss, stress, and sleep deprivation. Hearing Loss Most people have heard of noise-induced hearing loss. Hearing loss can occur either through repeated, prolonged exposures to noise exceeding 85 decibels, or through short exposure to an extremely intense noise. Most cases of hearing loss result from the former. The sound-transmitting hair cells in the inner ear become increasingly damaged; each additional exposure compounds the problem. Note: Hearing loss is cumulative and irreversible.

    Stress Noise is a powerful source of stress. When noise is unwanted and intrusive it can trigger strong stress reactions. These include the release of several stress hormones, changes in heart rate and rhythm, a rise in blood cholesterol levels, as well as digestive upsets. Long-term noise exposure and high blood pressure have been consistently linked in numerous studies. It therefore appears that noise may play a role in such cardio-vascular diseases as heart disease. Recent research also indicates that stress hormones released during prolonged noise exposure may impair the immune system. This may be of particular importance to people whose immune system is already impaired, such as cancer and AIDS patients. Your attitude toward the unwanted noise directly affects your level of stress. The more helpless you feel, the greater your level of stress. If you perceive the noise as unnecessary and preventable, your annoyance will increase as well. Sleep Deprivation Noise-induced disturbances of sleep can have substantial effects on subsequent task performance.

    Frequent disruptions of sleep contribute to daytime drowsiness, fatigue, and lack of concentration. As a result, your safety may be at risk. Noise And Your MindNoise affects how people interact with each other and learn. People in noisy environments show increased aggression and hostility, and are less likely to be helpful. While music can lighten up dreary and repetitive chores, complex mental tasks become more difficult to perform and the number of mistakes tends to increase. Reading scores and language development of students in noisy environments lag behind their peers from quieter environments. What Can You Do To Stay Healthy?Unfortunately, noise problems cannot always be resolved speedily. Try the following tips to help you stay healthy and sane in the meantime: ? Wear Earplugs: Earplugs are an effective and cheap method to protect your hearing. ? Exercise: A vigorous workout will help your body get rid of stress hormones and provide an outlet for anger and frustration. ? Eat a Healthy Diet: Your body needs all the nutrients it can get to minimize the impact of stress on your system. ? Get Enough Sleep: You will feel better and cope better with adversities if you’re well rested. ? Learn Relaxation Techniques: Most school boards offer evening classes in Yoga or Meditation. These methods can help you reduce stress. ? Become an Anti-Noise Activist: Joining like-minded people in the fight against noise will give you confidence and know-how. Noise in t sea!!! Is this chap mad? What possible problem is there with noise in the sea? OK, so it’s not a big problem, but there are people who are worried about it, and so engineers are trying to reduce it. It all comes back to whales (and lots of fish, but people really worry about the whales). The ocean has always been a noisy place to live. Breaking waves cause lots of noise, shrimps click their claws, surf on the beach and various fishy noises all contribute to the general hubbub. Now however, the greater amount of shipping has dramatically increased the noise in the ocean, drowning out all the natural noises. Huge engines hammer away, driving the ships across the oceans, radiating sound from their propellers and through their hulls. Through all this clamour there is one creature that really relies on hearing quiet noises across vast distances, and that creature is the whale. Whale song has been popular for several years now, but the whales have been using it much longer than that. It is widely believed that the whales use their song to communicate with each other, across hundreds of miles of ocean. With the increase in noise in the ocean people are beginning to worry that the whales won’t be able to hear each other, and so will be less likely to find each other. This could effect their migration patterns, and so effect their population. As always it comes down to the engineer to improve on what has gone before. The ship owners don’t want to pay a fortune to make their ships quiet for the benefit of a few fish (I know they’re mammals really), so combined with government legislation, the engineers make ships that are cheaper, faster, and more efficient, while still making less noise than older ships. This keeps both the ship owners and environmentalists happy, while allowing the whales to sing in peace. Of all sorts of noise, neighbourhood noise is the greatest source of noise nuisance and complaints. A survey carried out in the UK in 1986/87 estimated that 14% of the adult population was bothered by neighbourhood noise, compared with 11% from road traffic noise, and 7% bothered by aircraft noise. The sources of neighbourhood noise, in order of number of complaints, was Amplified music; Dogs; Domestic activities; Voices; DIY; Car repairs; with 10% complaining about something else. Engineers strive to make these complains less frequent. Often there is little engineers can do to reduce the noise at source. People are people, and will make a noise. What is done is to stop the noise, as it travels from from the source to the listener. Double glazing and better insulated walls are two low-tech solutions to the problem. Hi-tech solutions include the active control of sound: For every noise, making an anti-noise, and having the two cancel out, but active control is still to expensive and unreliable to apply to general cases, at the moment. Just remember, that for every time you hear a noise that annoys you, you might have annoyed someone else with your noise

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