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Thursday, May 27, 2010 09:12 am

Letters to the Editor 05/27/2010


Columnist James Krohe Jr. in his thoughtful article on boom cars and noise [see “Noise about noise,” by James Krohe Jr., May 20] had not emphasized the fact that noise is more than an annoyance – it is a health hazard! The academic literature is replete with studies demonstrating that noise can adversely affect our mental and physical health. Noise is a stressor that can trigger physiological responses – increases in heart rates, blood pressure rises. If noise is continuous, then stress reactions can lead to cardiovascular disorders. Noise can disturb our sleep and impede our next day’s activities. Noise diminishes quality of life which the World Health Organization deems necessary for good health.

Additionally, there are numerous newspaper accounts of police reporting that in stopping loud boom cars, they discovered drivers were engaged in other illegal activities, e.g. drugs and guns were found in the cars. Too often, noisemakers speak of their rights but individuals imposed upon by the noise of others have rights as well. Respecting another’s rights is called responsibility and a civilized society must have both – rights and responsibilities.
Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D.,
New York, N.Y.

I am a retired physician with an interest in the medical, social and economic effects of noise pollution. Noise is unquestionably one of the great plagues of modern society -- and it is one that worsens with each passing decade.

The World Health Organization reports that noise produces defense and startle reactions, damages hearing, disturbs communication, disrupts sleep, impairs cardiovascular function, interferes with teaching and learning, reduces productivity, harms relationships, provokes unwanted behaviors, and increases accidents. It is a major source of recurring annoyance, leading to stress which may not be recognized but which degrades the quality of life and adversely affects health.

Nightime noise is one of the major disrupters of sleep. Sleepiness (or reduced alertness) may have been a contributor to the following environmental disasters; Bhopal, Three Mile Island, Exxon Valdez, and the one currently ongoing in the Gulf of Mexico. They all occurred in the late night or early morning hours.

Cardiovascular effects can be detected even while we sleep. Recent reports from the European Union reveal that 3 percent of all fatal heart attacks are caused by environmental noise.

Those city council members who excuse noisemakers are not serving the public or upholding their oath of office. I suspect Frank Edwards may have smoked cigarettes in the ’60s and ’70s but I suspect he may not in 2010. Across the United States, the public is protected from second hand smoke because smoking in public places is illegal.

We know a good deal more about the adverse effects of noise than we did 40 or 50 years ago. Making use of knowledge is one hallmark of an enlightened society. Protecting the rights of citizens is another. Citizens need to be protected from secondhand noise.
Louis Hagler, MD
Oakland, Calif.

I read with interest the lead editorial in last week’s IT, “Noise about noise.” Some folks have said, “What’s the big deal about having to put up with a loud stereo from a nearby auto for a minute or two waiting for a stoplight to change?” I agree, and while I dislike any excessive noise, I certainly can live with those couple of minutes of unwanted noise.

But that, to me anyway, is not the issue. It would be a different story if I lived near that intersection and had to live with that noise hour after hour day after day. Or, worse yet, if I lived next door or across the street or alley from a household where the residents played their stereos, either from a car parked on the driveway or from inside, so loud that the sounds carried to my ears.

That would be most irritating, and is why I do think the city needs tighter enforcement of noise regulations, including removal of the offending equipment if that is what it takes.
Dick McLane

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