Utne Blogs > Science and Technology

Bad News About Noise

by Staff


Tags: ,

The walls of my apartment click. The radiator pops. The refrigerator hums and my sink gurgles. Even when police cars aren’t sounding their alarms toward my window (a fairly common occurrence), my apartment is seldom in a state of silence. I’ve come to accept the barrage of excessive sound as an unavoidable product of urban living, but according to Elizabeth Svaboda in Science & Spirit, that noise could be causing more harm than I know.

Citing a recent study on people's reactions to noise, Svaboda writes that “excessive noise made people more violent and aggressive, increased their risk of heart problems and sleep deficits, decimated their productivity, and impaired their ability to learn. In short, unwanted noise degraded almost every aspect of their lives.” When people hear loud noises, the evolutionary “fight or flight” response kicks in, creating major physiological changes. The constant noise people experience every day can cause massive damage to people’s health and wellbeing. Doctor Louis Hagler, who has conducted many studies on the adverse affects of noise, is quoted in the piece saying, "Now we know secondhand noise is as bad for us as secondhand smoke."

Bennett Gordon

rhea_5
2/3/2008 4:42:13 AM

I have a craving for silence that can only be met by getting up ridiculously early my partner listens to music all the time I used to love to listen to music and sometimes I still do, but it can never replace silence and on a day when the fridge noises are too much for me, even music can make me feel assaulted. And I don't think moving to the country is the answer because chances are you bring your car and all your appliances and then you've already changed the place for the noisier. rhea


rena_2
1/29/2008 9:34:57 AM

Our minds and bodies are most relaxed in a quiet environment and this is vital for our health and well being. Each time a vehicle roars past us, the body automatically constricts in a effort to protect itself. I noticed this on a recent early morning walk. I couldn't believe how disorienting and alarming it was when the first early morning commuters passed me. At first I didn't know what it was until I paid attention and then I realized it was the traffic. There are few such places available for most people these days. Just as dark sky preserves are being set up for people around the world to reclaim and connect with the grandeur of space, so places of quiet and nature need to be made available for people to refresh them selves.


alan springwind_1
1/28/2008 5:37:14 PM

What I do for it is envelope myself in music. This blocks out other environmental noise and allows me to control the sounds I hear. I can choose meditative sounds when I want peace and punk music if I need to release some aggression. Music also gets me moving more since it motivates me to dance. Oh well, I think I'll throw on some bluegrass to get me back in touch with the hills. http://aspringwind.blogspot.com


country mouse_1
1/28/2008 2:59:17 PM

this comes as no surprise. Properly designed buildings would be much quieter and since acoustic insulation is a form of thermal insulation, they would leak less heat through the walls. But unfortunately, most building developers want to minimize the expense and maximize their revenue at the expense of the people that live there for the next hundred years. What do you do about it? Not much. You can call in a specialist in noise abatement spend a good $20000-$40000 plus bring your walls in about 6 inches all sides to quiet your living space. personally, I would rather solve the problem by ditching the city, saving money with cheaper real estate in the country, and living where I can hear wind and snow falling through pine needles instead of my neighbors fixing dinner.


ed livingston_7
1/24/2008 5:45:03 PM

I think we sort of know this intuitively, but it's good to have it confirmed. Good description of apartment noise, too. The question is: What do we do about it? Not everyone can afford to live in a quiet environment.