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World Health Organization Wants Europe to Be As Quiet as a Library

Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
edited April 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse
I had heard the term "noise pollution" before, but I never took it seriously. According to a new study released by the Word Health Organization, though, noise pollution's negative health affects are only second to air pollution's in severity. Somehow, and this is news to me, noise can trigger heart disease by causing stress hormones and fatty materials to build up in the cardiovascular system.

The researchers are so certain of their conclusions that they are proposing a "noise cap" of 40 decibels at night for the European Union.
"Considering the overall impact, I think this really puts noise on a footing where it needs to be taken seriously," says Deepak Prasher, who studies the effects of noise on heart health at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, UK. "Governments need to acknowledge that it is a problem."

Kim says that the European Commission has already set guideline maximum levels for night-time noise of 40 decibels. "That's about the same noise you would get in a library," he says.

In countries of eastern Europe that have joined the EU more recently, the level has been set slightly higher, at 55 decibels, to allow them to adapt.

The researchers collaborating on the report are still gathering data to set limits averaged across 24 hours. These need to be ready by 2013, when the revised version of Europe's 2002 Noise Directive is due.

Source: New Scientist: Noise Kills and Blights Lives in Europe


The concept of "noise pollution" is still bizarre to me (I mean, really, noise can kill people?). Is it really possible to legislate the amount of noise permissible at night?

Hexmage-PA on

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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    It seems like one would have to be extremely conscious, when designing such a law, to be fair to people who live on non-standard schedules, either for personal or work-related reasons.

    MrMister on
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    RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    It's a good idea. We have, in general, been utterly blind when it comes to noise pollution. And yes we know exactly how to make things operate quietly, in fact quietness is a function of either insulation or efficiency. The bolded term is kind of a big deal these days.

    Robman on
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    HenroidHenroid Mexican kicked from Immigration Thread Centrism is Racism :3Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Wow, no wonder my job stresses me out even on the easy-going days.

    Henroid on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'm thankful to see the WHO give attention to noise pollution, but the idea of limiting noise specifically at nighttime hours is... pretty dumb. Is the noise of busy workplaces during daytime hours less associated with negative health effects? Are people less likely to encounter noise during the day already?

    I'd rather see a general broad reduction in noise across all schedules & areas of life than one specifically targeted at nighttime noise.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    FirstComradeStalinFirstComradeStalin Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    European emergency vehicles, for example, have way louder sirens than their North American counterparts. I remember the hell of living 100 yards away from a Parisian fire station

    FirstComradeStalin on
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    DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Robman wrote: »
    We have, in general, been utterly deaf when it comes to noise pollution.

    More appropriate, I think.

    DarkPrimus on
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    SanderJKSanderJK Crocodylus Pontifex Sinterklasicus Madrid, 3000 ADRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I live fairly close to both a hospital and a firestation, and yeah, sirens do get loud at times. As does the railway that's about 200m away....

    By chance I got to see some planning by our local government for highway modifications just a few days ago, and noise pollution figures are indeed on there, bracketed in three parts (Number of houses recieving over 40, 48 and 65 dB, which were something along the lines of 10.000, 4.000, 110 for the plans in question).

    I think in general that it's just part of societal evolution, the more we learn the more we realize that many of our current habits are harmful to some degree. Light pollution is another factor that throws people off. The average individual harm may not be that great, but the overall sum can be quite high. Of course, this balances with economic activity, the price of counteracting the damaging, or with safety measures, so it remains to be seen how much is done with it.

    SanderJK on
    Steam: SanderJK Origin: SanderJK
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    dlinfinitidlinfiniti Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    too many asians on their cell phones or something

    as far as noise at night, in most residential areas i've lived in city ordinances prohibit things like operating heavy machinery after certain hours which has been effective in my experience
    i imagine in urban areas that might be quite a bit more difficult to regulate but i think mandating better sound insulation indoors is a better solution than just outright capping noise levels

    dlinfiniti on
    AAAAA!!! PLAAAYGUUU!!!!
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    SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    It's a conspiracy to put the United Aircraft Corporation, and all their loud aircraft, out of business.

    You heard it here first, folks.
    dlinfiniti wrote: »
    too many asians on their cell phones or something

    You, sir, better be a white girl with distractingly forward cleavage. Or else.

    Synthesis on
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    The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2011
    I find this really interesting and a good idea, but 40dB is really quiet. Like, your average busy office or home box air conditioner unit is about 60-70db.

    It would seem more sensible to get the extremes ameliorated first - the high-noise industrial situations in particular. And there's only so much you can do while still relying on internal combustion engines...

    The Cat on
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    KageraKagera Imitating the worst people. Since 2004Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Too much silence weirds me out.

    Kagera on
    My neck, my back, my FUPA and my crack.
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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    I'm thankful to see the WHO give attention to noise pollution, but the idea of limiting noise specifically at nighttime hours is... pretty dumb

    Also, again, potentially marginalizing for people who do not keep normal hours. And the answer isn't just "go to bed already, hippy!" as some people are simply biologically constituted so as to keep irregular hours and others are required to for work purposes.

    MrMister on
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    SpeakerSpeaker Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I was just thinking the other day: I wish the police had another reason to give people tickets.

    Speaker on
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    Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Speaker wrote: »
    I was just thinking the other day: I wish the police had another reason to give people tickets.

    I imagine that you already do have noise pollution laws. This just seems to be standardisation.

    Mojo_Jojo on
    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
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    The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    I'm thankful to see the WHO give attention to noise pollution, but the idea of limiting noise specifically at nighttime hours is... pretty dumb

    Also, again, potentially marginalizing for people who do not keep normal hours. And the answer isn't just "go to bed already, hippy!" as some people are simply biologically constituted so as to keep irregular hours and others are required to for work purposes.

    People who play their saxophone loudly at 2am already get in trouble, so I'm not sure what the point of this is.

    I'd be more concerned about it being misused against entertainment venues - there's already a big problem with hipsters moving into pub/club districts to live near the cool part of town, and then immediately bitching that X venue is keeping them up at night.

    The Cat on
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    MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    The Cat wrote: »
    People who play their saxophone loudly at 2am already get in trouble, so I'm not sure what the point of this is.

    The worry is that by making the standard of "too loud" lower and lower, these noise ordinances will come to constitute an undue burden on those who for whatever reasons are up at night?

    MrMister on
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    The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2011
    Speaker wrote: »
    I was just thinking the other day: I wish the police had another reason to give people tickets.

    Pffft, this is environmental law, cops won't go near that shit. It'll be 'enforced' by an insufficiently staffed and trained high-turnover mob of Environment department lackeys, and the legislation will be all negotiate-a-path-to-compliance-and-only-bring-out-the-Stick-of-Fines-if-that-doesn't-work.

    The Cat on
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    The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    People who play their saxophone loudly at 2am already get in trouble, so I'm not sure what the point of this is.

    The worry is that by making the standard of "too loud" lower and lower, these noise ordinances will come to constitute an undue burden on those who for whatever reasons are up at night?

    Maybe? I'm pretty sure our local noise laws are 'nothing over 50' after 10pm or so already *shrug*. You're also using american legal terms in a discussion about EU policy, so...

    The Cat on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    Also, again, potentially marginalizing for people who do not keep normal hours. And the answer isn't just "go to bed already, hippy!" as some people are simply biologically constituted so as to keep irregular hours and others are required to for work purposes.
    The Cat wrote: »
    I'd be more concerned about it being misused against entertainment venues - there's already a big problem with hipsters moving into pub/club districts to live near the cool part of town, and then immediately bitching that X venue is keeping them up at night.

    Totally agree on both these points.

    The latter is kind of a problem in San Francisco, as I imagine it's a problem in a lot of cities. There are plenty of politicians who love to make it difficult to have a nightlife.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    The concept of "noise pollution" is still bizarre to me (I mean, really, noise can kill people?). Is it really possible to legislate the amount of noise permissible at night?

    Seeing how many places already do...


    I'm with Feral and Cat. It should be universal rather than dependent on the time of day, a lot more forgiving than 40 db, and with protections for venues to which elevated noise levels are inherent. You can promote advancements and efficiencies that make a train yard run quiet without impacting the nature of the work. A concert, not so much.

    moniker on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    The concept of "noise pollution" is still bizarre to me (I mean, really, noise can kill people?).

    BTW, I don't really know anything about the effects of noise on humans over the long-term, but I can comment on a different problem. It contributes to animal habitat loss. When human development encroaches on an animal habitat - say, a woodland - even if you leave X square mileage of woodland available, you've rendered a certain percentage of that woodland uninhabitable. Prey species will flee from the unfamiliar noises, which will either drive predator species further inwards, or will force them to feed on species that aren't scared of human noise - like, for example, domesticated pets.

    Combined with light pollution you can also have some funky, unpredictable effects on circadian rhythms, which also upsets predator/prey cycles and throws populations out of equilibrium.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Sweet! now they'll just need to find some way to pay for a bazillion more enforcement personnel, considering that noise ordinances are already common and underenforced unless there are mountains of complaints considering that your neighbor blaring his favorite 'Rush' CD at full volume at 2 AM tends to be less of a priority than the drunk driving, domestic violence calls, and so forth that are also happening every night.

    Areas with high population density simply will not be that quiet at night. It's just not feasible, even if you assume they're willing to shut down the highways and other sources of traffic noise.

    JihadJesus on
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