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E-M:/ International Noise Awareness Day

International Noise Awareness Day
Wednesday, April 30, 1997

Please take at least 60 seconds at 2:15 p.m. on this
day to be quiet and listen to the sounds around you.


Noise is more than an annoyance; it is one of our most serious 
environmental problems.  And unlike some forms of pollution,
it is getting worse, not better.  By some estimates, urban noise
is doubling every ten years.  Airplane traffic is increasing by
5 percent a year.  More and more loud devices like leaf
blowers and jet skis are coming into use all the time.  Quiet
is simply disappearing from our world.


* Hearing Loss *

   According to one survey, almost 9 percent of Americans suffer
from permanent hearing loss.  For those over 65, the proportion
rises to 25 percent.  Regular exposure to loud noise is a leading

* Stress and Illness *

   The body reacts to noise as a signal of danger.  The blood 
pressure rises, the heart rate increases, breathing speeds up,
muscles tense, and adrenalin is released.  This occurs even in
sleep, and even unborn children are affected.
   Noise causes stress, and stress is a major cause of illness and

* Loss of Community *

   Noise prevents people from communicating.  On busy streets,
near major airports, and in many gathering places such as night
clubs, noise makes conversation difficult or impossible.
   Studies have shown that people are less likely to help a person
in distress on a noisy street than on a quiet one.

* Agression and violence *

   Noise is often used to take power.  Unmuffled motorcycles
and boom cars are a way of appropriating space and denying
its enjoyment to others.
   Every year there are more conflicts between those who feel
that they have an unlimited right to make noise and those who 
assert their right to quiet.  This conflict has led to violence and
even murder.

* Cruelty to animals *

   Pets in many stores and homes suffer from loud music from 
which they cannot escape.
   Animal life in the oceans is regularly being exposed to 200 dB
blasts of sound from scientific experiments.  Fish-farms use 
underwater horns to drive away seals.


   Our society is hooked on noise.  Almost nowhere can one find 
a shop, restaurant, mall, or even doctor's office free of piped 
music, radio, or television.  Practically every form of indoor 
recreation is accoumpanied by pounding music; outdoors, joggers
and skiers use personal stereos to keep silence at bay.  Movie
theaters promote their "big sound."   We are exposed to acoustical
stimulation at unprecedented levels, and as the effect of each
stimulus weakens, the dose must be increased.
    People growing up with little experience of peace and quiet
come to equate silence with boredom.  Passive forms of 
entertainment take up an ever greater part of life.  Even social
gatherings are often little more than group exposure to music
and TV.


   Myth #1: "You can get used to it..."

   We can cut off the sight of the outside world by closing our 
eyes, but hearing is a 24-our-a-day system.  Whether or not we
are listening to the sounds around us, our ears continuously 
transmit signals to the brain and nervous system.

   Myth #2: "It's the price of progress."

   Existing technology can significantly reduce sound emissions
from vehicles and other machines.  Intelligent and well regulated
use of noisy devices could dramatically reduce their impact.  Much 
other noise can be eliminated simply by more thoughtful behavior.

   Myth #3: "It's my right to make noise."

    The soundscape is part of the commons, the property that
belongs to all of us.  No one has the "right" to pollute it with
noise any more than they have the "right" to pollute the air or
water with chemicals.


     Earplugs and soundproofing can sometimes provide relief, 
but they are not a real cure any more than gas masks are a 
remedy for air pollution.  We must work on reducing noise at the 
     Hear are some things you can do to help:

     (1) Most noise regulation is municipal.  Write your council
          asking that more stringent bylaws be put in place, and 
          that enforcement become a priority. 

     (2) Reduce your own noise.  Read your local noise bylaw and
          stay within permitted hours for noisy activities such as 
          lawn-mowing.  Use hand tools as much as possible when 
          doing work around the house or yard.  Don't inflict radio
          or other amplified sound on your neighbors or workmates.
          Keep your vehicle in good repair, drive considerately, and
          turn off the engine instead of idling at the curb or "drive
          through" lanes.  

     (3) In public places and commercial establishments, make it
          known that music or television is not always welcome.

     (4) Insist on your right to quiet.


     The Society was founded in 1982.  It is a registered charitable
      Our objectives are:

     (1) To promote awareness of the increasing problem of noise
          pollution and the dangers of noise to our physical, emotional
          and spiritual well-being.

     (2) To work for noise abatement through regulation and
           enforcement and by encouraging responsible behavior.

     (3) To foster recognition of the right to quiet as a basic human

     We do not seek to create an absolutely silent world.  However, 
we want to see a world where quiet is a normal and readily 
available part of life.
     We want our homes to be havens from unwanted noise, and we
ask that the soundscape of public spaces be respected.
     We insist on our right to listen, or not listen, to music and other
audio according to our own tastes and moods, without having other
people's choices forced on us.
     We want to be able to attend movies, listen to speeches, and go
skating or dancing without being deafened by unreasonably loud 
     We would like to see certain times and places set aside as
"acoustic reserves" so that everyone has a chance to experience
the healing power of quiet.

Right to Quiet - Society for Soundscape Awareness and Protection


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