Photo credit: Cameron Casey from Pexels

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Noise was first declared a public health hazard in 1968 by U.S. Surgeon General William Stewart at a conference entitled “Noise as a Public Health Hazard.” And, that’s the title of the newly released policy statement of the American Public Health Association, updating its previous policy statement published in 2013.

This new policy statement provides communities around the country with information and recommendations that can help the U.S. get back on track to protect  public health, worker health, and environmental health from the harms of noise. It summarizes the current state of scientific knowledge on the links between noise and hearing damage, and between noise and cardiovascular, metabolic, neurological, and psychiatric disorders, and impairment of children’s learning.

Importantly, the policy statement calls on the federal government to again fund the federal noise control program, implement and enforce existing legislation, i.e., the Noise Control Act of 1972 and Quiet Communities Act of 1978, address environmental justice issues, have the Federal Aviation Administration work with health agencies on aviation noise, and provide assistance to states and localities. It also calls on other federal agencies, state governments, professional organizations, and non-governmental organizations to integrate noise into their work and take action.

Working together, we can create a quieter and healthier world and fulfill the promise of the Noise Control Act of 1972 to “promote an environment for all Americans free from noise that jeopardizes their health or welfare.”

Thanks to Jamie Banks, PhD, MSc, founder and Executive Director of Quiet Communities, Inc., The Quiet Coalition’s parent organization, for her dedicated work leading APHA’s Noise and Health Committee that produced the updated policy. It wouldn’t have happened without her.

Disclosure: I serve as a member of the committee that rewrote the APHA policy statement.