Acoustiblok Soundproofing Blog Articles

WARNING: Secondhand Noise In the Area

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Nov 7, 2013 6:05:00 PM

 noise, secondhand noise, Acoustiblok

It creates stress and stimulates aggression and other social behaviors. It causes headaches, makes you irritable, and can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. It can raise your blood pressure and cause heart disease and hearing loss over time.  Surely, this sounds like something that has to be dealt with. What is it? Noise. 

Where are the ad campaigns informing people of the dangers of excessive noise? Where are the public service announcements aimed at educating youth and adults about the health effects of constant loud noise? They are rarely seen. The closest thing we see or hear are warnings and announcements aimed at youths who listen to loud music in headphones. It's time to start spreading the word.  

Noise and Secondhand noise, AcoustiblokNoise that is experienced by people who did not produce it is called second hand-noise. Like secondhand smoke, secondhand noise can have negative impacts on people without their consent. Exposure to secondhand noise occurs in many places such as homes, the workplace, restaurants and bars, on a city street, at a park, and many other places we frequent. 

Some examples of secondhand noise include:

   -  An airplane flying over your house or place of residence

   -  Trains traveling near your home or workplace all day long   

-  Cars, trucks, tractor trailers, buses and motorcycles driving up and down the roads

   -  Construction workers using jack hammers or operating heavy equipment like bulldozers

   -  A constant humming noise of a neighbor’s loud HVAC unit running constantly

   -  A neighbor with a dog that barks constantly 

   -  Noise coming from excessively loud car stereos

   -  Loud noise from small engine powered landscaping machines.

We experience noise in a number of ways. On some occasions, we can be both the cause and the victim of noise, such as when we are operating noisy appliances or equipment. There are also instances when we experience noise generated by others just as people experience second-hand smoke. While in both instances, noises are equally damaging, second-hand noise is more troubling because it has negative impacts on us but is put into the environment by others, without our consent. And it’s nearly impossible to avoid these days. While noise regulations worldwide have helped regulate the amount of noise that a person or machine can create at a given time of the day, most police departments seem to be unwilling or unable to respond to noise-related problems in a way that provides any measure of genuine or timely control. The amount of man-made noise in the environment is still a serious problem. 

Let’s face it, eliminating secondhand noise is virtually impossible in the 21st century as things stand today. Even staying in your house or place of residence can’t keep secondhand noise out. It’s getting harder and harder to find quiet environments. While separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, opening windows, and ventilating buildings can eliminate secondhand smoke exposure, it’s much more difficult with sound and noise.  Unlike light waves, sound waves travel through walls of the places we live, work, and frequent. While it’s impossible to eliminate all noise in an environment, there are ways that you can mitigate the amount of entering walls of buildings.

More widespread use of sound mitigating materials in the structure of buildings at the construction phase would help give people a quieter place to escape too void of outside noises. Modern soundproofing materials such as Acoustiblok and Quietfiber for example, can reduce noise inside to a more comfortable level. 

Tags: soundproofing materials, secondhand noise, Effects of noise, health effects of noise, soundproofing, Noise pollution, noise

I'm Thinking. Please. Be Quiet

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Aug 28, 2013 1:25:00 PM

 

Main Image for NY Times Noise Blog Post Aug 2013__________________________________________________________________________________

The following is an excerpt from Author George Prochnik that ran in the New York Times Opinion Pages on Sunday, on August 24, 2013.  George Prochnik is the author of the forthcoming book “The Impossible Exile.”  ___________________________________________________________________________________

Slamming doors, banging walls, bellowing strangers and whistling neighbors were the bane of the (19th Century German) philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s (shown above) existence. But it was only in later middle age, after he had moved with his beloved poodle to the commercial hub of Frankfurt, that his sense of being tortured by loud, often superfluous blasts of sound ripened into a philosophical diatribe. Then, around 1850, Schopenhauer pronounced noise to be the supreme archenemy of any serious thinker.

His argument against noise was simple: A great mind can have great thoughts only if all its powers of concentration are brought to bear on one subject, in the same way that a concave mirror focuses light on one point.

Just as a mighty army becomes useless if its soldiers are scattered helter-skelter, a great mind becomes ordinary the moment its energies are dispersed.

describe the imageAnd nothing disrupts thought the way noise does, Schopenhauer declared, adding that even people who are not philosophers lose whatever ideas their brains can carry in consequence of brutish jolts of sound.

From the vantage point of our own auditory world, with its jets, jackhammers, HVAC systems, truck traffic, cellphones, horns, decibel-bloated restaurants and gyms on acoustical steroids, Schopenhauer’s mid-19th century complaints sound almost quaint. His biggest gripe of all was the “infernal cracking” of coachmen’s whips. (If you think a snapping line of
rawhide’s a problem, buddy, try the Rumbler Siren.) But if noise did shatter thought in the past, has more noise in more places further diffused our cognitive activity?

Environmental noise calls attention to itself — splits our own attention, regardless of willpower. We jerk to the tug of noise like sonic marionettes. There’s good reason for this. Among mammals, hearing developed as an early warning system; the human ear derived from the listening apparatus of very small creatures. Their predators were very big, and there were many of them.

blog ear spimd waves The evolved ear is an extraordinary amplifier. By the time the brain registers a sound, our auditory mechanism has jacked the volume several hundredfold from the level at which the sound wave first started washing around the loopy whirls of our ears. This is why, in a reasonably quiet room, we actually can hear a pin drop. Think what a tiny quantity of sound energy is released by a needle striking a floor! Our ancestors needed such hypersensitivity, because every standout noise signified a potential threat.

There has been a transformation in our relationship to the environment over the millions of years since the prototype for human hearing evolved, but part of our brain hasn’t registered the makeover.

Every time a siren shrieks on the street, our conscious minds might ignore it, but other brain regions behave as if that siren were a predator barreling straight for us. Given how many sirens city dwellers are subject to over the course of an average day, and the attention-fracturing tension induced by loud sounds of every sort, it’s easy to see how sensitivity to noise, once an early warning system for approaching threats, has become a threat in itself.

Indeed, our capacity to tune out noises — a relatively recent adaptation — may itself pose a danger, since it allows us to neglect the physical damage that noise invariably wreaks. A Hyena (Hypertension and Exposure to Noise Near Airports) study published in 2009 examined the effects of aircraft noise on sleeping subjects. The idea was to see what effect noise had, not only on those awakened by virtual fingernails raking the blackboard of the night sky, but on the hardy souls who actually slept through the thunder of overhead jets.

blood pressure1BlueThe findings were clear: even when people stayed asleep, the noise of planes taking off and landing caused blood pressure spikes, increased pulse rates and set off vasoconstriction and the release of stress hormones. Worse, these harmful cardiovascular responses continued to affect individuals for many hours after they had awakened and gone on with their days.

As Dr. Wolfgang Babisch, a lead researcher in the field, observed, there is no physiological habituation to noise. The stress of audible assault affects us psychologically even when we don’t consciously register noise.

In American culture, we tend to regard sensitivity to noise as a sign of weakness or killjoy prudery. To those who complain about sound levels on the streets, inside their homes and across a swath of public spaces like stadiums, beaches and parks, we say: “Suck it up. Relax and have a good time.” But the scientific evidence shows that loud sound is physically debilitating. A recent World Health Organization report on the burden of disease from environmental noise conservatively estimates that Western Europeans lose more than one million healthy life years annually as a consequence of noise-related disability and disease. Among environmental hazards, only air pollution causes more damage.

A while back, I was interviewed on a call-in radio station serving remote parts of Newfoundland. One caller lived in a village with just a few houses and almost no vehicular traffic. Her family had been sitting in the living room one evening when the power suddenly cut off. They simultaneously exhaled a sigh of relief. All at once, the many electronic devices around them (including the refrigerator, computers, generator, lamps and home entertainment systems and the unnatural ambient hum they generated and to which the family had become oblivious) went silent. The family members didn’t realize until the sound went off how loud it had become. Without knowing it, each family member’s mental energy was constantly diverted by and responsive to the threat posed by that sound.

Where does this leave those of us facing less restrained barrages? Could a critical mass of sound one day be reached that would make sustained thinking impossible?

Pullout Numb 2 for NY Times Article PostIs quiet a precondition of democracy? The Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter suggested it might just be. “The men whose labors brought forth the Constitution of the United States had the street outside Independence Hall covered with earth so that their deliberations might not be disturbed by passing traffic,” he once wrote. “Our democracy presupposes the deliberative process as a condition of thought and of responsible choice by the electorate.”

The quiet in Independence Hall was not the silence of a monastic retreat, but one that encouraged listening to others and collaborative statesmanship; it was a silence that made them more receptive to the sound of the world around them.

Most people who are seeking more serenity from the acoustical environment aren’t asking for the silence of the tomb. We just believe we should be able to hear ourselves think.

 

 

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Read George Prochnik’s full article 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/opinion/sunday/im-thinking-please-be-quiet.html?pagewanted=all

Learn more about Arthur Schopenhauer

Among 19th century philosophers, Arthur Schopenhauer was among the first to contend that at its core, the universe is not a rational place. (source: Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schopenhauer

 

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Tags: environmental noise, Effects of noise, effect of noise on concentration, adverse health affects of noise, noise affects on concentration, how noise affects the brain, noise