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Quiet Please! You're Killing Me!

by Captain Future Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 05:34:17 AM EST

Of all the forms of damaging pollution, the one that gets the least attention is noise. People don't listen, they don't want to hear about it. It just seems like an inconvenience, like complaining. It's not like having your nerves frayed and your hearing fried is worth crying about.

Well, YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! According to a new study, says the Guardian:

"Thousands of people around the world are dying prematurely from heart disease triggered by long-term exposure to excessive noise, according to research by the World Health Organisation."

Based on WHO figures, the Guardian estimates that of some 100,000 annual deaths from heart disease in the UK, more than 3,000 are from chronic noise exposure, to ordinary urban/suburban and maybe rural noise.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob


"Until now, noise has been the Cinderella form of pollution and people haven't been aware that it has an impact on their health," said Deepak Prasher, professor of audiology at University College London.

I don't really understand the Cinderella reference, but you get the idea.  Nobody's listening!  Nobody wants to hear about noise!

 The Guardian continues:

Research published in recent years has shown that noise can increase the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenalin in the body, even during sleep. The longer these hormones stay in circulation around the bloodstream, the more likely they are to cause life-threatening physiological problems. High stress levels can lead to heart failure, strokes, high blood pressure and immune problems. "All this is happening imperceptibly," said Prof Prasher. "Even when you think you are used to the noise, these physiological changes are still happening."

The basic problem with noise--and one reason it causes stress--is that when it's noisy you can't hear anything. We depend on our hearing a great deal more than we're normally conscious of. I suspect that noise suggests to us when we're in danger, that we're under attack, though subconsciously most of the time. It turns out, our subconscious is right. We are in danger.  We are under attack.

Our very noisy society also interferes with our ability to think--to essentially talk to ourselves for a continuous concentrated period. A lot of people like that, of course; it's how they make their money, by preventing people from thinking, and pushing their other buttons.

"Totalitarianism," Norman Mailer once wrote, and then thought so highly of it that he said it on television, "is the interruption of mood." Noise is one of the major weapons of totalitarians (Hitler, Big Brother, Dolores Umbridge) and of torturers. Now it's more than shattered mood and thoughts. It's a heart attack.

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This may not just be a health statement, but a political statement too: Too much noise.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 05:36:18 AM EST
to be more precise...too much right wing noise...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 06:04:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wanted to comment, but I couldn't concentrate because my neighbour is hammering through my wall for some reason and I can't even hear me typing. What was the topic again?

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 05:46:38 AM EST
The Cinderella reference probably has to do with noise being an underappreciated cause of health problems, when really it may be a "princess," at the center of more than we gave it credit for.

Or they gave it credit for, really, because I totally agree noise annoys!!!!!!!!!! Augh!!!!!!!!!!!! And people who aren't bothered by it do not understand. I once got ridiculed by an otherwise good friend when I told him I couldn't stand amplified bass and drums, because I could feel the damn vibrations in my sternum. I'm not making that up, but he refused to believe me and made fun of me.

I understand the therapeutic value of loud music after a bad day, but for god's sakes, use headphones. There's no reason for me to hear your music in my apartment.

One last noise pet peeve: People who listen to music when taking a shower by turning up the volume on the stereo in the living room. It's called a shower radio/CD player, people. $20 at Target. AAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!

by lychee on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 06:11:04 AM EST
I moved into a giant old Dogpatch artist's loft in San Francisco (near Potrero Hill) at a time when the 280 freeway was closed for earthquake repairs.  (And the illegal loft invasion had barely begun.)  Despite huge single pane windows some 3+ meters high, living there was heaven.  After a few years the freeway reopened, and the noise increase was so deafening and omnipresent it began to drive me nuts.

Not that weren't other factors.  ;-)

The roar increased with the traffic increase of the dotcom boom.  It was amplified by the cliff bordering the far side, and i longed for a sound wall or a row of trees.  They never came, partly because noise does not have any priority in a land where educating the children goes unfunded.

My noise disease is spreading.  I love the whoosh of windmill blades.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 07:34:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A few years ago I was to "Dance of Lords" show and had to leave it, my ears hurt, despite me being able to turn the noise down with my hearing aids, I felt like I have to throw up. There were other people complaining about indigestion without realising that it was the noise level that caused it. The moment they were outside their discomfort passed.

I don't know what concerts have to be so loud to day, and not only rock concerts. I am avoiding going to concerts because they are just to loud.

by Fran on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 02:01:55 PM EST
I spent 15 minutes in a rock concert today. After that I had to leave, as the volume was horribly high. I've never experienced that kind of volume level in any concerts I've been to (no, not even in Roskilde Festival or stadion concerts). And I was surprised to notice that no-one wore earplugs. Not even the little kids. Perhaps Dutch people already have hearing loss so they don't have to turn down the volume anymore?

Anyway, now my ears feel stuffy, and I'm kicking myself for staying there those 15 minutes. I already have tinnitus in one ear and I do not need it to get louder.

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--

by tzt (tzt) on Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 03:21:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I´m sure it is bad everywhere, but I heard somewhere that Spain is one of the noisiest countries and it drives me ballistic.  Practically nobody knows what is to speak one at a time, the masses talk as if they were still living on 40 acres and the norm in public places is to have a loud tv AND loud music playing at once.

Sometimes I just lose it and shock everyone yelling "enough!" or start reading my book as if I were practicing in an amphitheater.

Add traffic, and all the village idiots´ kids necessity to get a motorcycle at 16, etc., etc. and I can understand why my patience doesn´t improve with age.


Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 06:58:39 PM EST
I've got some neighbors who are constantly talking, to the point where I've wondered if they have some psychological problem with silence.

Last year, before they moved in, I had to resort to industrial hearing protectors, the big over-the-ear things that clamp to your head. Everything echoes in this neighborhood, so I needed something to block out the noise from two blocks away.

by lychee on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 07:20:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Early microwave ovens could explode eggs by cooking them too fast.  Those very same radio frequencies used by early microwaves are how held close to the heads of millions.  If simple audible noise is unhealthy I wonder about the proliferation of gigahertz RF energy and it's subtle effects on human physiology.

"I can't have a cigarette yet I have to live in your microwave oven 24/7"

by Lasthorseman on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 07:40:38 PM EST
That's a very important point that industry and media insist is 'questionnable'.  I knew nothing about it in 1980, but my sixth sense told me to stay away from functioning microwaves.  Now, the high cases of cancer around antenna towers are undeniable and I feel uneasy in many places.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 07:58:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was interesting to read these posts, because the one thing I really dislike about our little town in Mexico is the noise level.  It is without question one of the noisiest places I've ever been. Second only to an active airport ramp.

  1.  We live across the street from a hotel that has a street level lobby bar that sits right on the sidewalk.  Fridays and Saturdays are live band nights until 4-5am. We might as well be in the bar and are only able to sleep because our bedroom is on the other side of the building, with a fan and loud air conditioner.  Some people tell us we should pay for our front row seats.

  2.  Local businesses advertise by paying persons to drive around town all day long with huge car roof mounted megaphones blasting away with recorded ads so loud the message is usually too distorted to understand. When one of those things goes by one can't hear anything, not even thought.

  3.  Local businesses also delight in blasting the entire town with loud loud music from gigantic, custom made speakers that stand four feet high and three feet across. Usually every block downtown (where we live) has at least one music blaster going all day and half the night.  (Who asked for or even wants it.)  I actually think most people in town are are so used to it that they don't notice on a conscious level anymore.

  4.  The favorite hobby for youthful car and truck owners is to install super low Hz high powered speaker/amps that rattle everything.  I think some are actually capable of doing damage to structures because doors, windows, and walls vibrate and rattle as if in serious distress - like an earthquake. For a lengthy period, one of these monsters lived across the street and actually competed in judged events to see who had the loudest, lowest sound.  He would routinely practice at about 2-4am right in front of our apartment. One morning the lady next door, who works a 13 hour day, came out and let him have it.  That calmed him down for a few weeks then he was back at it.  Finally he moved somewhere - who cares where, we can't hear him anymore.  But his friends still roam the streets at all hours and that's one noise nothing can muffle, because it penetrates everything.

There are several other noisy examples, but I'm sure everyone gets the point.  Sunday afternoon is usually the exception.  All stores close, the town empties out, and the silence is deafeningly wonderful!

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 09:55:29 PM EST
I live in a city of 18 million people.  I have no idea how many cars there are, but it's a lot.  And it is highly unusual for anyone to drive one of them without constantly sounding the horn.  There is a vast amount of construction, as well.  It is the noisiest place I've ever encountered.  We have it all -- air pollution, noise pollution, light pollution....

The result being that I can sleep through almost anything.  It's weird, I think I've subconsciously learned how to differentiate between "important" noise and unimportant noise.  I will wake up if something strange happens, but usually only then.

I also relish quiet to a degree I never thought possible.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Aug 24th, 2007 at 10:58:41 PM EST
I stayed in downtown Cairo for a month one time and you're right, it vies for being one of the noisiest places around.

Another is the Via Venato in Rome on a Friday or Saturday night (caused me to move hotels).

Some parts of downtown Mexico City are pretty bad at night also.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 12:57:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Odd coincidence.

Yesterday I bought Prof. Kosko's (EE, USC) book, Noise.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 01:14:02 PM EST
And don't bother reading it.

I'm only on page 17 and already there are three factual errors and seven, or so, interpretation errors.

And a significant bit of muttonheaded woolyness:

...God is all signal.

Well that's useful.

(Communication Channel) + (Communication) + (God) = Perfect Communication.

Now why didn't I think of that?  (What a dummy!)


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Aug 26th, 2007 at 12:07:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I ran a campaign a few years ago trying to get students to protect their hearing in clubs and bars.  Free ear plugs were given out, posters and flyers and articles went everywhere possible.  The RNID runs a similar campaign across the country every year but still people pay little attention.

People are aware that loud noise can damage hearing and cause tinnitus but I doubt that people ever think about the more subtle effects of it.  I know some deaf people who have stopped wearing hearing aids because it gets so uncomfortable.  I seem to be fairly resilient to it but even so I get headaches and find it harder to focus my eyes properly when I've been subject to too much loud noise for a while.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 27th, 2007 at 09:33:10 AM EST


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