Articles Quiet Coalition2021-05-12T11:07:49-04:00


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1508, 2022

Earbud use can cause noise-induced hearing loss

August 15th, 2022|

Photo credit: Michael Burrows

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This article in the Chattanooga Pulse emphasizes the fact that earbud use can cause noise-induced hearing loss. To those of us who follow–and sometimes contribute to–the literature on personal audio system use causing noise-induced hearing loss, this is nothing new.

Unfortunately, it still isn’t widely enough known that to overcome ambient noise so they can understand what they are listening to, personal audio system users need to turn up the device output volume to dangerously high levels, high enough to cause auditory damage.

Better-fitting earbuds or headphones with noise cancelling features may allow listening at lower output volumes, but this is not a guarantee of preventing auditory damage.

We think the only safe use of a personal audio system is keeping it on the desk or in one’s pocket or purse.

Because if a podcast, audio book, or musical track sounds loud, it’s too loud, and your hearing health is at risk.

1208, 2022

In memoriam: Bryan Pollard, Founder, Hyperacusis Research, Ltd.

August 12th, 2022|

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This thoughtful essay written by the board of Hyperacusis Research, Ltd. memorializes that organization’s late founder, Bryan Pollard.

Bryan and I served together on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018, but more importantly for me Bryan was the individual who encouraged me to join him in being a noise activist, trying to make the world a quieter place.

Bryan developed tinnitus and severe hyperacusis from a wood grinding machine used to pulverize tree trunks and limbs that had to be removed at his house.

When he was dissatisfied with the treatment he was receiving for his hyperacusis, and his doctors couldn’t provide answers to his questions, he started an organization to raise money for research into the causes of hyperacusis, because without understanding the nature of a disease, it’s hard to find treatment or a cure. As I am quoted in the essay, Bryan somehow moved the otolaryngology research community to begin a vigorous program of research on hyperacusis.

We hope the Hyperacusis Research board will be able to continue Bryan’s outstanding work.

Thanks to Yishane Lee at Hearing Health Foundation both for publishing this in memoriam piece, in her role as

1008, 2022

Cost keeps some landscape pros from buying quieter electric equipment

August 10th, 2022|

Photo credit: Erik Mclean

by Jamie Banks, MSc, PhD, President, Quiet Communities Inc.

A recent piece from NPR discusses some of the barriers landscaping professionals face when considering the purchase of battery electric lawn mowers. These mowers, powered by lithium-ion batteries, are quieter, cleaner, simpler, and easier to use and can make for an attractive economic proposition when properly operated, charged, and stored. But the upfront premium, certain operational limitations, and battery issues also need to be considered.

Savings and Other Benefits

Much of upfront premium paid for commercial electric mowers can be attributed to the cost of lithium batteries. For smaller mowers, getting through multiple clients a day may require multiple batteries. Large mowers, like the Mean Green mower mentioned in the NPR piece, are expensive machines with powerful, long lasting lithium batteries that enable upwards of seven hours of run-time per day. The cost of these mowers can range between $30,000 to $50,000 each vs. $15,000 to $40,000 for a comparable gas mower.

So, “is it worth paying more for the electric mower than a comparable gas mower?” This requires comparing the total costs of each. The purchase price of the electric mower includes the mower, but it also includes the

908, 2022

Does anyone have the right to colonize the soundscape?

August 9th, 2022|

Photo credit: Life Of Pix

by Jeanine Botta, MPH, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition

John Seabrook’s New Yorker article about branding with acoustic vehicle alert sounds covers some of the details in my recent blog post and earlier article in the Right to Quiet NOISELetter. But Seabrook’s article goes much further, offering a glimpse into the inspiration, motivation, and thought processes of sound designers who will be changing the North American soundscape over the next several years, while possibly failing to achieve the goals of the Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System as established in the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010.

Some who follow this technology believe it’s crucial that pedestrians easily discern its sounds’ meaning. Pedestrians may eventually need to do this with as many as 60 unique branded sounds. Seabrook puts this question to General Motors’ engineer and senior expert in exterior noise Douglas Moore more than once, and Moore’s answers sound at times oblique, at other times unrelated to the question. Seabrook asks why the regulations don’t require AVAS to sound more like internal combustion engine vehicles, since people know those sounds and won’t need to learn them. Moore rationalizes that the purpose of AVAS is “to provide

808, 2022

Swimming in noise

August 8th, 2022|

Photo credit: Christian Gloor licensed under CC BY 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This delightful article in Nautilus discusses underwater acoustics, anthropogenic noise in the ocean, and its effect on marine life. It’s too wide ranging for me to summarize in a few sentences, but I highly recommend that you read it yourself. (Nautilus is a relatively new science magazine that publishes online and in print, covering science broadly and not devoted solely to marine subjects as might be suspected by its name.)

Marine biologist Heather Spence, who is featured in the article, was interested in snapping shrimp, small crustaceans that make a sound by snapping their claw so loud that it can be heard above the water.

The article discusses how sound is a primary means of communication and navigation for any underwater animal, as well as being used to find food or to avoid being eaten.

Unfortunately, anthropogenic noise has made the oceans intolerably loud.

A new international effort, the UN Ocean Decade Research Programme on the Marine Acoustic Environment will undertake to measure and understand physical, biological, and anthropogenic manifestations of sound in the ocean.

We look forward

408, 2022

Stopping neighbor noise begins with you

August 4th, 2022|

Photo credit: Monstera

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

GrowNYC is an environmental group in New York City that oversees farmers’ markets, recycling programs, community and school gardens and, in general, promotes environmental awareness among New Yorkers. The New York City Mayor appoints the Board, and I have served on the Board for over 30 years, after being appointed by five mayors. GrowNYC also has a section on its website that provides information on noise impacts and with my long-term experience working on the noise issue. New Yorkers are told that should they require assistance with a noise problem, they can contact me. It goes without saying that a lot of people have contacted me over the past 30 years.

Abby Reinhard, BestLife, writes about a recent survey that asked about top neighbor frustrations and found that “noise [was] ranked as the number one neighbor annoyance.” This was true for people living in single-family homes, apartments, and townhouses. I can add that of all the calls I get about noise intrusions, neighbor noise ranks number one.

While Reinhard suggests that “you do what you can to mitigate the

308, 2022

Working with power tools? You need hearing protection.

August 3rd, 2022|

Photo credit: Bidvine

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Home repair and improvement expert Bob Vila–you may remember him from the PBS show, “This Old House”–recently posted this article about using hearing protection when using power tools. I’m glad to see a home improvement expert finally mentioning hearing protection, not just eye protection.

If I were doing a PBS show, it might be called “This Old Home Repairman.” I do more home repair than home improvement, and I’m certainly not in Bob Vila’s league, but I never used hearing protection until I became a noise activist in 2014. I would accept momentary discomfort when using a circular saw or even from pounding in one nail, not understanding that there is no such thing as temporary auditory damage. Any auditory symptoms after loud noise exposure indicate that permanent auditory damage has occurred.

After I learned how bad noise is for auditory health, if I’m using any tool that makes more noise than a screwdriver or pair of pliers, I insert earplugs or put on my earmuff hearing protectors.

When I’ve said that to other DIY enthusiasts, they laugh and say, “but using a screwdriver or pliers doesn’t make any noise?”

I reply, “That’s

208, 2022

Noisy City lets you see and hear noise pollution in your city

August 2nd, 2022|

Photo credit: Quintin Gellar

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

Two senses informing you about noisy areas in your town are better than one. Do check out, as I did, these brilliant maps that let you hear as well as see the noisy spots in one’s city. Since New York City was one of the four cities for which an audible map was available, I roamed through the New York City neighborhoods listening to the noise levels. Karim Douieb, who runs a data-visualization company called Jetpack is responsible for developing these “eye-ear” maps, called Noisy City.

It will not be surprising as you scroll through the map to identify the causes of high decibel level volumes-–road and airport traffic. The article’s author, Elissaveta M. Brandon, points out the noise associated with JFK and LaGuardia airports and then reminds her readers that living under a flight path “could increase the risk of developing high blood pressure or having a stroke.”

I urge readers to check out the Noisy City site to experience the sounds of the cities that have been mapped out. We should expect more cities will

108, 2022

The power of silence in a deafening world

August 1st, 2022|

Photo credit: elifskies

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This thoughtful essay on Vox , excerpted from a book by Justin Zorn and Leigh Merz, discusses the power of silence in a deafening world.

Real noise, and informational noise, disturb us and make it difficult if not impossible to focus on what’s really important.

The authors write:

Understanding and realizing our goals, in this sense, requires the reduction of noise. It starts with the ordinary day-to-day work of managing the noise. This kind of clarity also requires time and space for cultivating immersive silence.

I can’t summarize the essay in a few lines, so you should read it yourself.

My only quibble with the authors is that I think people want quiet, not silence. But we certainly don’t want noise, real or informational, all the time.

A quieter world will be a better and healthier world for all.


2907, 2022

One woman’s quest for silence

July 29th, 2022|

Photo credit: Oscar Ovalle

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

Linda Briskin lets her readers know that she disliked noise from the time she was a child. Apparently, the sounds of anger from her family led her to hide under her bed and in closets. She did not even like birthday parties as a child because she feared the sound of balloons bursting. Briskin admits that she embraces terms such as “misophonic” to describe her dislike of noises and even admits to a mild case of hyperacusis. To deal with the noises around her, she carries earplugs wherever she goes.

So, what action would she take to lessen noise in our environment and enhance silence? She is considering starting a group called “Society of Noise Resisters and Silence Warriors.”

Briskin writes about the health hazards of noise to humans as well as the dangers of noise to other species in our world. She seeks out places, like libraries, that value silence, and she writes about a New York City bar, Burp Castle, that urges their guests to whisper. She also writes about musicians who value silence. Briskin took time

2807, 2022

Boston researchers awarded $12.5M NIH grant for hidden hearing loss research

July 28th, 2022|

Photo credit: Sepehr Ehsani licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This press release from Boston’s Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary reports on the award of a large NIH grant to Sharon Kujawa, PhD, Charles Liberman, PhD, and others there. Why is this important? Because in 2009, Kujawa and Liberman published the first report describing cochlear synaptopathy caused by noise exposure in an animal model.

Sound is transmitted through the ear to the cochlea, deep within the temporal bone of the skull, where minute hair cells perceive the transmitted sound waves and transduce the sound waves into electrical signals. The electrical signals pass through connections, called synapses, and are transmitted to the auditory processing centers in the brain, where they are perceived as sound.

It turns out that high-intensity sound damages the synapses. This doesn’t just happen in animals, but has now been shown to happen in humans, too.

This discovery is thought to explain a phenomenon that had been observed for years, the difficulty adults in mid-to-later life have understanding speech in noisy situations, e.g., a noisy restaurant. But when a patient complains of

2707, 2022

Citizen science gains a new noise tool with NoiseModelling

July 27th, 2022|

Photo credit: Andrew Neel

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

NoiseModelling, which was begun as a research tool, has enabled researchers to develop environmental noise maps of urban areas. But as a free tool, it can be used by nonprofessionals to produce noise maps of their communities. This tool will take its place among other tools that have been developed recently that allow residents to better assess the noises that are intruding on their lives and, as a result, adversely affecting their health and well-being.

We now talk about “citizen science” as we describe the techniques that allow individuals to assess the noises around them on their own. Soundprint, founded by Gregory Scott, is an app that allows people to measure the sounds of the restaurant in which they are dining. Individuals can report the sound levels to Soundprint, which reports on which restaurants provide quieter environments that so many people desire.

Tae Hong Park of Get Noisy has developed sensors that can be placed on windows of people living near airports. These sensors register the time a plane flies over and the sound level of

2507, 2022

New Yorkers suffer from excessive noise

July 25th, 2022|

Photo credit: Craig Adderley

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

According to this report on Spectrum NY1 cable television channel, New Yorkers suffer from excessive noise. Is anyone surprised?

The “city that never sleeps” has long been one of the noisiest cities in the world, maybe the noisiest, although as best as I can tell there are no published scientific studies ranking cities worldwide by noise levels. And of course, even noisy cities have quiet places, so it would be very hard to measure total noise levels over a city’s entire area.

But to me, the important news is the recognition–in this piece, and recently in others–that noise isn’t just a nuisance, but is a health hazard, with noise levels not high enough to damage hearing causing non-auditory health effects, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

The Spectrum NY1 report quotes The Quiet Coalition’s Arline Bronzaft, PhD, as did a recent article in a Sierra Club publication. Dr. Bronzaft has been writing about the dangers of noise for decades. We’re glad that people are finally starting to listen to her!


2207, 2022

How loud is too loud?

July 22nd, 2022|

Photo credit: Mark Stebnicki

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

How loud is too loud? That’s the question asked in the Tyler Morning Telegraph in an article written by Claudann Jones from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

We city dwellers usually think of rural and farm areas as quiet, and they generally are, but noise exposure from agricultural equipment does pose a risk to auditory health. Rural recreational noise exposures, especially shooting sports, also expose people to dangerous noise levels.

Jones offers sound advice to protect hearing. To me, the most important is, “Wear hearing protectors when involved in loud activities.” (Since “loud” has specific meaning in psychoacoustics, I might prefer the wording, “Wear hearing protectors when involved in noisy activities.”)

Jones mentions 60 decibels as not being harmful to hearing, which is certainly true, although lower than the 70 decibels cited by the CDC.  But Jones may be right. Auditory damage may begin at 55 A-weighted decibels*, the “effective quiet level” needed for the human ear to recover from noise-induced temporary threshold shift.

As we have often written, if it sounds loud, it’s too loud, and auditory health is at risk.

*A-weighting of sound measurements adjusts them to approximate

2107, 2022

Noisy classrooms interfere with learning

July 21st, 2022|

Photo credit: Arthur Krijgsman

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

Natalie Wexler’s recent article, “Elementary Classrooms Are Too Noisy for Kids to Learn,” was not surprising to me because my study demonstrating elevated train noise impaired reading scores of children in classrooms in a school adjacent to the tracks was published in 1975. After the Transit Authority employed a method to abate the transit noise and the Board of Education installed acoustical tiles in the ceilings in the classrooms near the tracks, the noise was reduced and the reading scores improved.

I followed up these studies with several articles on the impacts of both internal and external noises on classroom learning, citing studies demonstrating the adverse effects of aircraft noise on classroom learning in schools near airports. The Federal Aviation Administration spent several hundred million dollars to abate noise in schools near airports as Wexler notes in her writing.

Wexler also comments on classroom teaching methods involving small group instruction and individualized attention from the teacher and raises the question as to whether these methods are better than the one where the teacher addresses the entire class. She

2007, 2022

Underwater noise from seabed mining could travel long distances

July 20th, 2022|

Photo credit: J.U.L.Ö

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

We have written many times about the importance of noise in oceans and lakes, and its importance becomes greater at greater depths, where light penetration is greatly reduced. Animals living at these great depths rely on sound rather than sight to find food, select mates, and avoid predators. Any increased ambient noise may interfere with these vital functions.

This article from the Pew Charitable Trusts discusses a report in Science about underwater noise generated by deep seabed mining. The research was funded by Pew via a grant to Oceans Initiative. The study simulated underwater noise produced by a mining operation in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, which spans 1.7 million square miles between Hawaii and Mexico. This vast stretch of the seabed is covered with trillions of rocklike nodules containing nickel, manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, and other minerals.

Mining has yet to begin, but companies are vying for approval and an intergovernmental organization formed to regulate seabed mining, the International Seabed Authority, is trying to develop regulations that will protect ocean life. The study showed that if all 17 contractors trying to get approval for mining in this Zone were operating, 2.1

1907, 2022

Work to begin to quiet London’s noisiest line

July 19th, 2022|

Photo credit: Alessio Cesario

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

The London Northern Line between Camden Town and Euston stations will have work done on its tracks to lessen the noise of what has been identified as the noisiest of the Tube lines. Complaints from residents from 2018 to 2022 identified the Northern line as the noisiest line in the city of London.

It should also be noted that London’s Transport unions had threatened to strike in 2019 if excessive levels of transit noise were not adequately addressed. In response, before COVID, London had been testing out a procedure to quiet the tracks on its Jubilee transit line which yielded promising results.

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan informed Londoners that a program to lessen track noise on the Northern line would begin shortly, but other lines requiring noise reduction treatments would have to wait until additional funds would be available. He added that this might take some time.

My interest in transit noise dates back to the 1970s in New York City when I conducted a study that demonstrated that passing train noise adversely affected classroom learning in a school adjacent

1807, 2022

Barbie unveils first-ever doll with hearing aids

July 18th, 2022|

Photo credit: Mike Mozart licensed under CC BY 2.0

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

CNN reports that Mattel’s Barbie division unveiled its first-ever doll with hearing aids. As Mattel’s Global Head of Barbie Dolls Lisa McKnight said, the dolls will help children see themselves reflected. Other dolls to come include a Ken doll with vitiligo, a skin condition.

McKnight added that children should be encouraged to play with dolls that don’t resemble them to help them understand and celebrate the importance of inclusion.

More importantly to me, for those children who have to wear hearing aids, having a doll with hearing aids helps them feel accepted. It lets them know that they are not alone.

The American Girl doll company released a doll with hearing aids two years ago, but Mattel sells many more Barbie dolls at a lower price point, so we’re glad to see this new development.

We are glad to see inclusive dolls coming to market, and hope they help children learn to accept those with abilities different from their own.

1507, 2022

The ocean is not a quiet place

July 15th, 2022|

Photo credit: Trygve Finkelsen

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This report by PhD candidate Thomas Uboldi, University of Quebec at Rimouski, on discusses noise pollution in the world’s oceans. Uboldi notes that many still think oceans are quiet, based on Jaques Cousteau’s 1953 book and 1956 documentary, both with the titleThe Silent World.

Research over subsequent decades, perhaps based on more time spent underwater, perhaps aided by technological developments in measuring and recording underwater sound, have shown that the oceans are filled with sounds made by fish, shrimp, and marine mammals such as dolphins and whales.

Uboldi’s research looks at the smallest animals, such as oyster larvae and other mollusks, which appear to be influenced by noise in a variety of ways. For example, the oyster larvae seem to settle where they can hear noise made by other oysters, because that indicates that the area is a good place to settle. Other animals warn of predators by making noise, just as birds warn each other of hawks in the air. Unfortunately, underwater noise pollution interferes with animal communication and food finding.

Uboldi concludes that “[k]nowing that the use of sound in the marine environment is much more widespread than

1407, 2022

Florida’s new loud music law

July 14th, 2022|

Photo credit: Nazly Ahmed licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

Lately, more cities and states across the United States are introducing legislation to curb loud sounds that intrude on the lives and well-being of its residents. One would like to think that such actions have resulted from the clamor of residents to reduce noise pollution and the growing literature linking noise pollution to adverse mental and physical health effects.

Thus, I am happy to point readers to this MSN article that says Florida is intent on acting to “lower the decibel level.” Starting in July, Florida’s “loud music law” will prohibit “sound produced by a radio, tape player, or other mechanical sound-making devices or instruments from within the motor vehicle that is ‘plainly audible’ from at least 25 feet away.”

I have noted previously that noise laws have to be enforced to be effective. Needless to say, I was pleased to read that the Bartow, Florida police department is quoted as promising to enforce the noise law. The Bartow police department also plans

1307, 2022

Car noise is killing us

July 13th, 2022|

Photo credit: Darya Sannikova

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Car noise is killing us. That’s the title of a post on Planetizen, a website covering urban planning issues. What is planning? Planetizen defines it as “the professional practice and academic study of the future of built and nature environments–from the smallest towns to the largest cities and everything in between.”

The Planetizen report actually refers to Dr. Alberto Moreyra’s presentation at the April 2, 2022, American Heart Association scientific session–the title slightly distorts Dr. Moreyra’s research. Dr. Moreyra and his associates looked at transportation noise in general, which includes road traffic noise, railroad noise, and aircraft noise. Road traffic noise includes that from motorcycles and trucks, not just that from cars. The research showed that 5% of heart attacks in 2018 New Jersey could be attributed to transportation noise, not just car noise.

Road traffic noise may be the easiest to mitigate. Enforcement of existing laws about vehicle noise, exhaust systems, etc. would be a good start, but specifications for road surfaces and tires can reduce road traffic noise by 10 decibels. Dealing with aircraft noise, which travels farther, is more difficult.

Noise is the unwanted sound track to the

1207, 2022

Quiet Skies Caucus gets funding to combat aircraft noise

July 12th, 2022|

Photo credit: Pixabay

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

The Quiet Skies Caucus, headed by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, enthusiastically announced last week that it was able to get funding “to combat aircraft noise in [the] Appropriations Bill.” Essentially, the provisions included in the bill direct the Federal Aviation Administration to engage with communities affected by aircraft noise, give aviation noise reduction a higher priority, provide for a central repository for citizen aviation noise complaints, and requires the FAA to examine the metrics it presently uses to evaluate noise levels. In addition, funding has been earmarked for studies that could lead to aircraft noise reduction in communities impacted by such noise.

Recommendations need to be followed by reports on how these recommendations were acted on, however, and “time limits” for such reports should be stipulated. In other words, will the FAA report back to Congress within a year or 18 months about how it followed through on the bill’s requests? Will the FAA report back on the new noise metrics? Will the FAA present the list of noise complaints and how they were responded to?

1107, 2022

More needed to protect seals, porpoises from underwater noise

July 11th, 2022|

Photo credit: Pixabay

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This report from Science Daily describes research done in Denmark and published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America about underwater noise regulations and how noise affects seals and porpoises. Water transmits sound very well, and marine mammals have excellent hearing, which they use to find prey and to communicate with each other.

To protect their hearing, regulators have relied on data developed by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, but the researchers report that these guidelines are seven years old and need to be updated. Among the agencies issuing regulations are the Danish Energy Agency.

Porpoises and seals are common marine mammals in shallow western European waters, the site now of wind farm development. The new research showed that low frequency sounds had adverse impacts on seals, and high frequency sounds on porpoises.

The Danish guidelines reflect the new knowledge. We hope the new information will lead to updated underwater noise regulations worldwide.

Because as we often say, a quieter world will be a better and healthier world for all, including marine mammals and fishes.


807, 2022

London’s restaurants are the loudest in Europe

July 8th, 2022|

Photo credit: Negative Space

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

I developed tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hyperacusis (a sensitivity to noise levels that don’t bother others, with the noise causing pain) after a one-time exposure to loud noise in a restaurant in 2007. When I became a noise activist in 2014, my main goal was to find a way to make restaurants quieter so my wife and I could enjoy both the meal and the conversation when we dine out.

I’m still working on that.

Finding a quiet restaurant remains difficult in Los Angeles, and as this report in the Daily Mail shows, is also a problem in London.

Based on data collected on the Soundprint app from more than 1350 restaurants in London, the Daily Mail reports that in more than half the restaurants the average noise level was over 76 decibels, about as loud as a lawnmower. Peak noise levels hit 80 decibels in half the restaurants. Obviously, those ambient noise levels make conversation difficult.

Perhaps more importantly, that’s loud enough to cause auditory damage. As the Daily Mail notes, “[a]ccording to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), noise above 70 dB over a prolonged

707, 2022

The race to allow air taxis even as the people try to fight helicopter noise

July 7th, 2022|

Photo credit: Archer

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

Just as federal and local representatives are trying to limit nonessential helicopter travel over New York City, we learn that urban air taxis–electric vertical-takeoff-and landing vehicles, known as eVTOLs–will soon be filling the skies. Although it is alleged that such vehicles will be quieter and less polluting, Sissi Cao,, notes that they are not that quiet. She speakes to Dr. Matthew Arace, a researcher studying the eVTOL design, who said that “[h]aving hundreds of these vehicles flying constantly overhead can really be a source of annoyance.”

May I add that annoyance does not adequately explain the adverse impact of noise from above on our physical and mental well-being.

According to one eVTOL company, the sounds from eVTOLs will not be perceptible above the city’s ambient level, though it concedes that in rural and quieter areas, the noise from these eVTOLs could be disturbing.

One should point out that there are quieter communities in urban centers as well. Today, aircraft and helicopters are flying over quieter areas in New York City, including over our parks. Do New Yorkers want to

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