Photo credit: simplethrill licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated more articles about quiet and sound and, thus, it was not surprising to read this lengthy article published in the Montreal Gazette on this topic. Like Americans who live near large airports, Montreal residents living near Trudeau airport found a greater calm during the pandemic with fewer planes departing from this major airport. With ground traffic being less, as it was in major cities around the world during the pandemic, there was even more calm experienced by Montreal residents

Now people living in Montreal and nearby townships are complaining about sight-seeing helicopters flying over their homes. We have heard similar complaints from New Yorkers as well. Also, individuals who have experienced greater quiet with fewer planes leaving Trudeau airport and less highway traffic these past fifteen months are wondering how they will deal with the increased levels of noise. It appears that individuals have “gotten adapted to a slightly quieter environment,” according to Dr. David Kaiser, the doctor overseeing environmental health at Montreal’s Public health Department. Dr. Kaiser then adds that noise “is really an underestimated environmental health issue that we know we could do better on.”

Readily understood by many Americans who have been advocating for less noise these many years, especially from road, rail, and air traffic, are the Canadian complaints that their government agencies have not yet adequately dealt with the noise emanating from these sources. Recognizing that improved data on noise events, such as sounds from overhead aircraft may get better responses from government agencies, Bill Mavridis, a Canadian entrepreneur, created a mobile app “to make it easier to complain instantly about aircraft noise under the Trudeau airport flight paths,” and he plans to use noise sensors from California tech company Get Noisy to record the sounds from these planes as well. These citizen-based efforts are now being used by several anti-aircraft noise groups in the U.S.

This article also acknowledges the adverse impacts of noise on our health and that “people in lower-income neighborhoods are more exposed to noise, especially traffic noise.” As I have been saying regularly in my posts, it is hoped that with more articles being written about the harmful effects of noise, policies will follow that will actually reduce noise pollution.