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Photo credit: Rick McCharles

By David Sykes, Vice Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Noise is regarded as a serious public health problem—outside the USA. But it is re-emerging here now after a 35-year hiatus that followed the defunding of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Noise Abatement and Control. That said, American scientists and doctors still travel abroad to be heard, and must hope that their messages will eventually bounce back. That’s why early this year two of the founders of The Quiet Coalition, Daniel Fink, MD, and Rick Neitzel, PhD, are traveling to Geneva and Zurich. Because where better to deal with a contentious issue than always-neutral (not to mention beautiful and rich) Switzerland?

GENEVA IN MARCH: Drs. Fink and Neitzel recently returned from the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, where they served as expert consultants to WHO about next steps for its Make Listening Safe program.  Dr. Neitzel presented a review of the scientific evidence about safe noise exposure levels, a topic Dr. Fink recently wrote about.

ZURICH IN JUNE: On June 18-22, Drs. Fink and Neitzel will present four separate papers and a poster at the 12th triennial Congress of the International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise. [Note: ICBEN, founded in 1972, holds it’s global Congress only once every three years, so its meetings are eagerly-awaited by the scientific and regulatory communities.]

The theme of the Zurich Congress is “Noise as a Public Health Problem.” This topic was first discussed in the U.S. back in 1968. In 1973, it became an international issue. In the early 1980s, however, political leaders in Washington DC pushed the noise issue down a black hole from which it has struggled to return ever since. The Quiet Coalition is glad that the impacts of noise exposure on human health are re-emerging in the U.S. thanks to scientists in the U.S. and abroad who continued working on the subject.

Drs. Fink and Neitzel hope to see some of TQC’s professional readers there—Zurich is lovely in June. Here are the topics they’ll be presenting:

– Significant Hearing Loss Is Probably Not Part of Normal Aging (Dr. Fink)
– Disability Rights Aspects of Ambient Noise For Persons With Auditory Disorders (Dr. Fink)
– What Is A Safe Noise Level For The Public? (Dr. Fink)
– Development Of A National Job Exposure Matrix For Occupational Noise In The US (Dr. Neitzel)
– Economic Impacts Of Noise And Hearing Loss In America (Dr. Neitzel)

See you in Zurich?