Acoustiblok Soundproofing Blog Articles

Fracking: A Controversial and Noisy Energy Process: Part 2 of 2

Posted by Larry Lasseter on Dec 23, 2013 4:25:00 PM

Fracking Blog Part 2 Series Header

Fracking is a Noisy Business

Fracking wells can be located near homes, schools, and other places that are normally located away from industrial businesses. Many people and families across the country are publically expressing their concerns about having to be so near fracking gas wells and about the non-stop noise the operation creates for their neighborhood. 

Sources of Noise in a Fracking Operation Noise

Anybody who has been around an oil or gas field knows that it is a loud environment. Operating heavy equipment to move earth; shape a padsite; erect a drilling rig; supply the well site with materials, tools, etc. via semi trucks; and run all the equipment necessary to set up and drill a well is a very loud operation that lasts 25-45 days, in most cases. To surrounding neighbors, some of those noises are irritating and offensive, but some of them are harmful. Specific sources of fracking-related noise include: 

    fracking pad site excavation Site preparation - Activities that cause noise include ground clearing, grading, waste management , vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and construction and installation of facilities. A quote from an article found online described it as, “It sounds like setting up for a circus more or less. You got them coming in setting up pad sites and putting up the walls, then the trucks start rolling in and you don’t know where they are coming from but they just keep coming.”

    • The fracking process – Primary sources of noise during the drilling are equipment drill rigs, and diesel engines. 

    • Vehicular traffic / heavy trucks  - Fracking requires large quantities of sand, water and chemicals at a well site. Trucks also haul away the waste fluids from the drilling.  A single fracking job requires hundreds of truck trips, and each well is generally fracked up to ten times. The increase in truck noise on surrounding roads is exponential.

Fracking Compressor station 11    • Compressor stations – To keep natural gas in a highly pressurized state for transport through pipelines, compressor stations are located every 40 to 100 miles along the route.  The stations typically have multiple large industrial compressors.  Some health impairments sometimes reported by persons who live near compressor stations include headaches, nosebleeds, sore throats, sinus irritation, skin rash, itchiness, cough,   difficulty breathing, visual impairments and burning eyes. nausea, vomiting and neurological impacts like dizziness, fainting, ataxia, dystonia, loss of balance

Municipalities Are Requiring Noise Control Action

State and local noise regulations restrict the amount of noise, the duration of noise and the source of noise for fracking companies. There are usually noise level restrictions for certain times of the day. Many municipalities where drilling is allowed are requiring the use of sound baffling materials around a well site. A sound baffle is a construction or device which reduces the level of airborne sound. Sound baffles are a fundamental tool of noise mitigation, the practice of minimizing noise pollution or reverberation. 

Many fracking companies say they are working to become better neighbors and address the concerns of community residents who live near the wells. 

Tags: hydrofracking noise, fracking noise, fracking compressor noise, All Weather Sound Panels, industrial noise, Acoustiblok

Fracking: A Controversial and Noisy Energy Process: Part 1 of 2

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Dec 18, 2013 3:01:00 PM

Fracking Blog Series DUOTONE Header This is a three part blog about the issue of high volume hydraulic fracturing, known to many as "hydrofracking" or "fracking," and noise issues that surround it.  

PART I:  The Controversy

According to the Wall Stree Journal, more than 15 million Americans now live within one mile of a fracking well. America is in the midst of an energy boom. It's expected to continue for decades and natural gas is expected to replace coal as the largest source of U.S. electricity by 2035, the Department of Energy forecasts. This energy bonanza is largely due to the combined use of horizontal drilling and fracking.

New oil and gas wells have turned millions of people into the petroleum industry’s neighbors.While many welcome the oil and gas companies who come bearing checks for temporarily leasing their land, others do not. Many people think the operation is noisy, disruptive and risky to human health and the environment despite the financial benefits.

Fracking History

Fracking technology has existed since 1947, but it mushroomed in the late 1980s when companies began to combine it with horizontal drilling to magnify productivity. In the last 15 years, a frenzy of drilling has taken place in the Western states – involving tens of thousands of individual wells (for example, 30,000 in the State of Colorado alone). This has spread into the Midwest and other areas as well. Millions of acres of land have been leased in 32 states by companies that are eager to get in on the “gas bonanza.” There are more than 500,000 active natural gas wells in the U.S. Fracking is also being done in other countries such as Germany, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and others.

Fracking Process 

fracking how it works 2 D drawingTo get natural gas or oil through hydraulic fracturing, companies:

-  Clear a well site, drill a bore hole, and drive a drill bit thousands of feet through the earth to reach layers of shale rock. 

-  Once they reach the strata of shale rock, they rotate the drill bit by 90 degrees and bore a horizontal cavity laterally through the shale seam to access a longer stretch of the deposit— from 1,000 feet to more than 10,000 feet. 

-  From the well head, they insert explosive charges down the bore hole and into the horizontal opening, and then set them off to perforate the well pipe and burst fissures in the rock. 

-  The drillers then pump millions of gallons of highly pressurized water, sand, ceramic beads, and chemical slurry into the hole to expand the fissures and hold them open. 

  -  As natural gas or oil begins to flow upward to the wellhead on the surface, the sand and beads prevent the fissures from closing. 

  -  Wastewater and drilling fluids that rise to the surface with the gas or oil are stored in ponds or tanks, or trucked away in heavy tank trucks.

The Issues For and Against

The following are some often used views from opponents and proponents about fracking:

Detractors Say:

Supporters and Industry Say:

  • Non-stop truck, heavy machinery, and compressor station noise.
  • The noise is non-stop, 24-hours a day, 7 days per week for about a month.
  • There's more the companies can do to reduce the noise.
  • The wells are often located close to neighborhoods and schools.
  • The chemicals used hurt the environment and are a danger to human health.
  • The drilling is causing earthquakes and making the earth's rock core unstable.
  • The chemicals they use can cause cancer.
  • The process contaminates the local potable water supply. Some people's water can be lit on fire even.
  • Kills animals and disrupts their local habitat. 
  • The process "rapes" the earth, is an invasive process.
  • It degrades the environment.
  • The noise is temporary for one month per well. More steps are being taken to mitigate noise at well sites.
  • The well sites are temporary and not permanent.
  • It's a safe process. The process has been made safer over the decades of doing it.
  • It gives America a chance to be energy self-sufficient for the next 118 years 
  • People don't have "correct" and accurate information about it.
  • Activists use powerful misleading soundbytes to sway public opinion.
  • It creates jobs and the growing industry will put more people to work.
  • It's a clean energy source that is abundant. 

The natural gas contained in the shale formations represents a huge storehouse of America's cleanest fossil fuel. The Potential Gas Committee, a non-profit group of natural gas experts, forecasts that this resource base contains 1,836 Tcf of gas. This, plus the proven reserves (238 Tcf ) identified by the US Department of Energy in 2007, means that the U.S. has enough natural gas to last at current rates of use for 118 years. 

Some aren’t buying into the fracking hype however and think the risks are too high. Attacks on fracking come from environmental, political, and economical sides. Movies such as Gasland, Gasland2, Promised Land, Down Deep and Unearthed have even brought each side’s issues to the big screen and social media. Polarized by divided allegiances to politics, parties, and popular opinion, many people are left wondering who to trust and what to believe. 

PART 2 OF THIS BLOG SERIES WILL COVER:

Noise issues associated with fracking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: environmental noise, hydrofracking noise, fracking noise, city noise laws, drilling noise, compressor noise, industrial noise, Noise pollution, noise barrier

Is There a Noise Problem in My Industrial Plant?

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Jul 31, 2013 5:32:00 PM

quiet cloud absorbs noise industrial bottling facility 3

Above: Acoustiblok's Quiet-Cloud industrial noise panels absorb noise in this Yuengling bottling facility. 

Industrial noise is usually considered mainly from the point of view of environmental health and safety, rather than nuisance, as sustained exposure can cause permanent hearing damage. Equipment used in a factory can be extremely loud. Everything from rotors, gears, fans, chillers, internal combustion engines, pumps, heavy machinery, etc., can be seen in industrial settings. All of this equipment can produce noise at decibel levels high enough to create environmental health and safety concerns.

describe the imageMeasures for controlling industrial noise are necessary to protect workers. Louder noise can also become a nuisance and may be considered noise pollution, in which case a community may require a company to take action and address it. When dealing with industrial noise mitigation, if possible, the goal is to always control the noise at the source by modifying the equipment itself or replacing it with a quieter model. However, for many companies, this is not always possible. Also, sometimes noise in a factory or industrial setting is the result of many machines running simultaneously.

Previous research has found that workplace noise led to severe health problems and resulted in significant increases in healthcare costs in many companies.

Noise Control

When an industrial operation is seeking compliance with OSHA noise regulations, the sound level regulation is a function of both sound level and daily exposure time. If the measurements reveal an excessive combination of sound levels and exposure times, a noise problem exists.

Depending on your budget and in-house capabilities, to find out whether you have a noise problem:

• It’s is always best to have an Industrial Hygienist identify the source of the noise and perform a noise measurement using proper instrumentation. Once you have their report, it can be given to a noise abatement company such as Acoustiblok who can help you find a solution using their soundproofing materials. If this is not an option:

• You can purchase a sound level meter, research how sound is measured and what the decibel levels mean, perform your own tests, and compare the results with OSHA noise workplace standards. If outdoor, also compare with your local city noise ordinance noise levels. If this is not possible:

• Another method is to try to talk comfortably with someone about 3.28 feet away (1 meter) from the noise source. If you can, there is probably not enough plant noise at that position to damage hearing. But if you, or others, must raise your voice above normal conversation levels (about 70 decibels) or shout to be heard or understood at close distances (between .6 foot to 1.3 feet (20 to 40 cm), plant noise at that position probably can cause hearing loss and you should have the sound levels there measured with suitable instruments.

Industrial noise problem chart 4 blog • If you are certain you have a noise problem, some soundproofing material companies, like Acoustiblok, have in-house acoustical professionals who will assist you in determining your noise problem and with finding a soundproofing solution.

It’s also important to check noise traveling out of the noisy plant area as well. If personnel in other parts of the plant complain, you should investigate and measure the levels of the sound they hear. If plant neighbors complain, or if local authorities say the sound exceeds applicable noise ordinances, a problem may exist and measurements are called for.

Once A Noise Problem is Identified

Remember that the sound is a form of energy. Your goal therefore is to reduce the amount of sound energy released by the noise source, or divert the flow of (sound) energy away from the receiver, or protect the receiver from the (sound) energy reaching the person. In other words, all noise controls work at the noise source, along the noise path, or at the receiver.

Once you have identified and measured the source of noise, you are ready to consider what can be done to control the noise. When you can’t modify the equipment itself to mitigate the noise, the next best options are to block and absorb the sound using modern soundproofing systems.

insustrial plant 2 guys workingThe presence of reflecting surfaces (walls, floors, ceilings, and equipment) in an industrial workplace results in the build-up of sound levels in the reverberant field. By controlling the reflected sound (i.e. by preventing the reflections), reverberant field sound levels can be reduced. Generally, the reflections are prevented by use of these acoustically absorbent materials applied directly to wall or ceiling surfaces or suspended from the ceiling.

The key to noise control is finding the control that is both effective and fits your budget. You should know not only what controls can work, but also know how costly the controls are to design and install.

CadnaARAcoustiblok12BESTSome acoustical soundproofing companies, like Acoustiblok, use leading noise prediction software, such as DataKustik’s Cadna-A and Cadna-R, to develop acoustical models of the soundproofing solution being proposed before it is purchased and installed for some complex noise problems.

 

 

 

 

Tags: industrial noise absorbant, industrial generator noise, industrial pump noise, industrial noise, industrial noise pollution, industrial fan noise, industrial chiller noise, indoor noise

Noise is a Severe Problem in India

Posted by Thomas Wiseman on Jul 19, 2013 4:14:00 PM

india noise pollutionloud speakers

Over the past decade, India has tried to get quieter, but is it working? Noise pollution is still a severe problem in India and may have harmful consequences on human health over time. Noise regulations were introduced in India about a decade ago, setting noise limits in industrial, commercial and residential areas, with stiff fines for offenders. Despite this, there is still little awareness or care about the dangers of noise pollution by many who live there. Because of a lack of manpower to enforce the laws or vested interests of politicians or the so called powerful lobby, noise legislation is not enforced effectively some experts claim. 

India is the seventh largest country by area and the second most populous country with more than 1.2 billion people. Since 1991, continuing economic liberation has moved the country towards a market-based economy. By 2008, India had established itself as one of the world's fastest growing economies

Some of the general noise problems in India include:  

    -  Industrial and construction activities

    -  Traffic noise

    -  Automotive traffic and honking of horns

    -  Fire crackers

    -  Generator sets

    -  Loud speakers 

    -  Music systems.

Air and road traffic in India and many developing countries have increased at amazingly rapid rates. While they may be symbols of growth and prosperity their engines have raised the noise levels in and above many cities. Aviation noise are among the biggest contributors to noise pollution.  Then there is the cumulative impact of powerful music systems (personal and conventional) and noise within the home (loud music and television for instance) that are increasingly becoming the source of many noise related ailments.

For some countries, including India, celebrations and festivities mean escalation of noise. Fire crackers and loudspeakers add to traffic noises which reverberate through crowded housing colonies, causing one of the world’s least recognised public health hazards – noise pollution. Infants, elderly and those who are ill are most vulnerable to noise pollution.

India’s Noise Control Regulatory Measures

India’s Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981 considers noise pollution an air pollutant. In 2000, the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules set ambient air quality standards in respect of noise (in decibels, dB) for industrial, commercial and residential areas and silence zones. They also direct state governments to undertake measures for “abatement of noise” resulting from vehicular movements and horns, fire crackers and loud speakers or public address systems, and to ensure that noise levels do not exceed the permissible limits.

The Supreme Court of India gave a significant verdict on noise pollution in 2005. Unnecessary honking of vehicles makes for a high decibel level of noise in cities. The use of loudspeakers for political purposes and for sermons by temples and mosques makes noise pollution in residential areas worse.

 Watch this Video News Broadcast About India's Noise Laws

In January 2010, Government of India published norms of permissible noise levels in urban and rural areas:

            India Air Quality Standards

             Source: Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India

Civil organizations have combated noise pollution by taking up the matter to local development authorities or by taking legal recourse. Indian judiciary has sought to provide respite to tormented petitioners through a number of judgments. For example, the Supreme Court has banned the use of loudspeakers and “bursting sound-emitting” fire crackers between 10 pm and 6 am. Nevertheless, the issue of noise pollution is unrelentingly grave. This is primarily because of poor law enforcement, owing to the absence of accountability for police and civic administration almost across the country, and the lack of civic sense among people.

The Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests launched the Real Time Ambient Noise Monitoring Network in 2011 to address the lack of real-time data. Under its first phase, automatic monitoring stations were set up in seven cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Lucknow. The data received from these stations showed that the noise levels were far above permissible limits. For example, commercial areas reported 93 dB in breach of the 65 dB limit, whereas the entire city of Chennai reported noise levels at over 100 dB, prompting an article in the Times of India (April 27, 2011) to equate living in Chennai with “living in a factory!”

India’s Loudest Cities

Indian cities are known to be pretty noisy. According to one estimate, Mumbai is one of the noisiest cities on earth battered day and night by cars, taxis, auto rickshaws horn, factory noise, construction work, etc. Outside noise levels there are at a constant 80-85 decibels which is considered twice the safe levels determined by the World Health Organization (W.H.O). Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million. Along with the neighboring urban areas, including the cities of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world. Mumbai was the site of terrorist attacks in 2008. In Mumbai and Calcutta, local court orders on the use of loudspeakers, firecrackers and horns have been implemented fairly successfully. 

Get a feel for traffic noise in Mumbai by watching this video someone made of them walking up Station Road, Santa Cruz in Mumbai

In Delhi, as reported by India Today (November 4, 2012), the noise level is 16 times higher than the prescribed limit, mostly because of the “unregulated and overloaded” trucks, sparing not even the patients in AIIMS and Safdarjang Hospital. In the Capital and other parts of the country, operation of factories in residential areas is another source of day-to-day distress, especially affecting the students and ailing residents.

Harmful Effects of Excessive Noise Exposure

Auditory damage from excessive noise was known hundred years of ago but only few people were exposed to excessive noise. The position changed rapidly with the advent of power-driven machinery. Today, noise has become omnipresent. The W.H.O. estimates that 120 million people world wide have hearing difficulties. The W.H.O. underlines that loud noise can create high blood pressure problems and mental health issues. Health experts argue noise pollution in India is a major cause of heart attacks and other stress related illnesses.

The following are some general health problems produced by constant loud noise:

    -  High blood pressure: Studies have found that people who live near a noisy airport, work in a noisy environment, or hear over 55 decibels of city traffic noise at night are at higher risk of high blood pressure.

    - Trouble sleeping: Noise can make it tough to sleep.

    -  Emotional effects: The stress caused by noise can make mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, distress, and irritability.

    -  Decrease in the ability to concentrate.

    -  Hearing loss

    - Poor school performance: Children in school do not perform as well in a noisy environment.

    - Mental fatigue

    - Headaches: Noise can trigger headaches in some people.

    - Discomfort to patients in hospitals.

    - May reduce efficiency and output of employees in the workplace. 

Soundproofing Material Can Help Bring Tranquility Back to Your Home

There are many soundproofing materials that can be used to mitigate the noise coming in from the outside of your residence.  One of the most effective materials on the market is Acoustiblok soundproofing material.

Adding a 3mm (1/8 inch) layer of the UL-approved Acoustiblok material increases a standard stud wall’s soundproofing factor by more than 98-percent and can result in more sound reduction than 12-inches of poured concrete. While other materials attempt to “stop” or “absorb” sound, Acoustiblok does neither. As the heavy, limp Acoustiblok material vibrates from the sound, it actually “transforms” the acoustical energy into “inaudible friction energy” in a process referred to as “isothermal adiabatic.” Lead, previously considered the best soundproofing, works on precisely the same basis and has exactly the same Sound Transmission Classification (STC) sound reduction rating. This material has been featured on some Do-It-Yourself Television Network shows in the United States. This materials has been in use for more than a decade across the world and has proven to be effective at reducing noise inside residential and commercial buildings. Acoustiblok material was named was a "Best Products" award winner in Builder News Magazine. 

Click on the following video to see how easily Acoustiblok can be installed inside your walls. 

In an existing structure, other soundproofing materials are available that can create a quieter environment inside your home or residence. One of these materials is called Acoustiblok-Wallcover. This material can provide tranquility in the study or nursery when the television or home theater is at full volume in the adjacent room. Any room in the house can become a sanctuary with Acoustiblok Wallcover, so piano practice in the music room won’t interfere with reading or quiet conversation in the bedroom. For business and professional associations that must provide private conference and meeting rooms, Acoustiblok Wallcover is a perfect solution for preventing conversations from being heard in adjacent rooms. Attorneys, physicians, and law enforcement agencies must be able to provide private, soundproof rooms to assure client confidentiality and to protect sensitive information discussed during corporate meetings.

003Acoustiblok Wallcover’s flexible material measures approximately ¼ of an inch thick, and is available in 4-foot by 8-foot sections. Weighing about one pound per square foot, Acoustiblok Wallcover is fairly heavy, which is why it takes two or three people to install. A simple box cutter is all that is needed to create cutouts for electric sockets and light switch panels. The material can be painted to match the decor of any room. 

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References:

Mr.R.R.Nair, Noise Pollution - Critical Overview; Industrial Safety Review, India's Leading Monthly Magazine on Fire Safety & Electronic Security Industry.Sept, 2012

Romi Jain, author - Global Views 

DIY Television Network, USA 

 

WHAT'S YOUR OPINION? COULD NOISE LEVELS AND HIGH STRESS LEVELS WOMEN IN INDIA BE RELATED?

http:/http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/07/13/study-for-women-india-is-the-most-stressful-country-on-earth/

 

Tags: noise regulations, India, India noise, soundproofing, industrial noise, Noise pollution, Acoustiblok, noise

Rising Noise Pollution: a Bleak Future for Mumbai's Youngest Citizens

Posted by Liz Ernst on Aug 22, 2012 2:38:00 AM

Mumbai children

You can’t help but feel for Mumbai. The commercial and entertainment capital of India, it ranks as a top 10 world commerce leader in terms of global financial flow, generating five percent of India’s GDP. Mumbai is responsible for 25 percent of all of India’s industrial output, 70 percent of the country’s maritime trade, and 70 percent of India’s economic capital transactions.

But Mumbai's noise pollution is eviscerating its citizen's quality of life and challenging the future of its children.

One of the world’s noisiest cities, Mumbai's din is so severe that the future health of its residents is in question. In fact. levels of noise and air pollution in Mumbai are through the roof and rising, and the noise is having a marked effect on the sleep patterns and health of the people who live there.

In residential areas, recent studies show that noise levels have steadily increased both during the daytime and at night over the past five years. The city’s established “silence zones” are never silent, and noise levels measure in at 63 decibels (daytime) and 78 decibels (night time) – the allowed limits are 50 and 40 decibels respectively.  In Mumbai, areas within 100 meters (328 feet) of schools, hospitals, shrines and courts are designated as silence zones.

Mumbai has 1,112 designated silence zones that are routinely disregarded. In fact, noise in these silence zones has steadily increased over the past four years, and officials even admit that most people are unaware that silence zones exist in their communities.

According to Mumbian environmentalists and public health officials, its residents are unaware of the health hazards they face from the never-ending exposure to high decibel sounds. Heart attack rates are steadily increasing, and cardiologists blame Mumbai’s dismal noise pollution stats for triggering the stress hormones that increase blood pressure and raise the risk of heart attack significantly. Mumbai’s high air pollution rates are exacerbating the health effects of the city’s noise, which leaves many Mumbian health officials to question what it will take to effectively address this burgeoning risk to the health and welfare of the general population.

Mumbai has some serious obstacles to overcome if it is to ever address its noise pollution problem in any meaningful way. Its citizens are largely unaware of the fact that noise can cause them harm, although the Indian government does consider it a serious problem. By aligning itself with the World Health Organization, the Indian government has tried to establish standard noise caps for residential areas (55 decibels), commercial areas (65 decibels) and industrial areas (75 decibels). However these noise caps are violated daily and offenders are almost never admonished.

In Mumbai, like most of India’s cities, traffic noise is the primary cause of noise pollution, and there is no escape from the 24/7 cacophony of traffic-related sound, from construction to horns hinking incessantly, night and day with no relief.  In 2008, to honor World Health Day, Mumbai held a "No Honking Day" – by all accounts a remarkable feat made possible only because of the Mumbai traffic police’s unwaivering efforts to enforce the ban. Mumbai’s citizens had a taste of what it was like to experience a day without the unwelcome blaring of auto horns filling every waking minute. For the average Mumbai citizenm, the respite was nice but only impeded one of the many sources of Mumbai's daily noise monsters.

Predictions were that “No Honking Day” would lead to countless accidents and chaos among both motorists and pedestrians, although no problems occurred. Still, the one day moratorium didn't scratch the surface of Mumbai’s very serious noise pollution problem.

Mumbai and Delhi, two of India’s most important metro areas, are also two of the world’s noisiest places, and the world in general is a dangerously noisy place.  Many organizations taking on the world’s noise pollution problems blame governments for waiting too long and not taking the health risks of noise pollution seriously. After all, just 40 years ago most of the world’s inhabitants had some place to go to escape noise levels that were a risk to their hearing and health. Today, the earth's quiet spaces are growing smaller and more elusive from one year to the next.

As long as governments are in bed with corporations, the quality of life for Mumbai’s citizens as well as the citizens of most of the world’s major metropolitan areas will never be a priority. Where is the follow-up to environmental reports telling us about the dangers of the noise to which ordinary citizens are subjected? When will the well-being of the people of Mumbai matter to its government more than the economic impact of regulatory compliance?

There’s got to be a Nobel Prize in it for the person who comes up with the answer. In the meantime, the children of Mumbai, Delhi, Buenos Aires, Cairo, and New York City (to name just a few of the world’s noisiest cities) are facing a future of hearing damage and loss, impeded learning, sleep disorders, elevated blood pressure and heart disease without ever having known any other life but one filled with noise.

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Tags: noise related health issues, traffic noise, noise barriers, health effects of noise, noise related hearing loss, industrial noise, Noise pollution, noise abatement material

Mandmade Noise Pollution Has Birds Singing a Different Tune

Posted by Liz Ernst on Apr 23, 2012 11:52:00 PM

            noise pollution,effects of noise on birds,urban noise,soundproofing,noise deadening material,  Singingurbanbirds resized 600       

Last week, I wrote about the noted affects of noise on the iconic pinyon tree of the American Southwest Mesas. In all, the deterioration of the pinyon is already adversely affecting  about 1,000 species of fungi, insects, arthropods, mammals and birds depend on tree for their survival.

This week, new findings are beginning to prove that noise pollution is interfering with the reproductive choices of birds as well.  Male birds are the crooners in nature; the tone of their song plays a critical role in the mating protocol of most feathered species. Birds in urban communities and communities exposed to high decibel traffic and industrial noise are singing and chirping in a different tune than that which nature provided, in order to be heard above the din of the manmade noise with which they must now compete. In the process of changing their singing tone to be able to hear one another, they are losing their natural key - their specific mating call that serves to attract females. If they were to quit fighting the noise and maintain their natural singing voices, chances are they won’t be heard by potential mates at all.

According to Wouter Halfwerk, a behavioral ecologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands, lower frequency singing among male song birds has the vibe that brings the lady birds calling. Let’s call it the Barry White songbird vibe.  When given the choice between a low pitched Barry White vibrato and, say, a high pitched Barry Gibb staccato, the lady birds choose Barry White every time.

“If females can hear all song types equally well, they will go for the sexy ones,” Halfwerk says. “But if they cannot hear the sexy ones well anymore, then they might just go for the songs they can still hear.

"It could very well be that noise pollution is interfering with reproductive decisions by females."

However, females are working a little harder than  they used to, to identify quality mates who are practicing their sexy voices and keeping them in tune. Halfwerk, along with a group of scientists studying the effects of  manmade noise on animals, did some spying and discovered that certain females may be canoodling with another male on the sly if their own mate’s singing tone isn’t doing it for them.

Apparently these untrustworthy female birds are sneaking out of the nest in the early morning hours, chasing after a nearby Barry White crooner – a rendezvous which for birds only takes about 60 seconds – and she’s back in the nest, never missed. That’s right – researchers surmised that the males that sang in higher (Barry Gibb) registers were more likely to be cuckolded than the low-throated crooners.

Since they wouldn’t be real researchers if they didn’t consider every opportunity to challenge their hypothesis, the scientists conducted paternity tests on the offspring and discovered that about 30% of the nest-dwelling partner males were not the baby daddy. Overall, the males that sang in new, high pitched frequencies to be heard above the manmade noise – most notably around the time that the lady birds were at their most fertile – were the males that ended up unwittingly helping to raise another bird’s offspring.

Next, these same researchers fitted nests with microphones and speakers, and tracked the females while they were subjected to different recordings of their mates’ calls. The researchers also funneled in noise that mimicked traffic sounds to see if it had any effect on the females.

With urban noise in the mix, the females responded to their mates' high-pitched calls more often than the lower, sexier (Barry White) calls — probably because they could hear them better.

The results of these studies have confirmed that while noise pollution does interfere with the birds' ability to communicate during their high-stakes mating games, they’re still managing to mate. Still, previous studies have shown that a variety of birds can suffer when they change their songs, according to Erin Bayne, an ornithologist at the University of Alberta. The new study is one of the first to explain why.

As more research data is completed on the effects of manmade noise on animals, nothing is being done to temper noise pollution, which is as insidious to human health as it is to a bird on the wire.

Tags: effect of noise on animals, manmade noise, noise deadening, soundproofing, industrial noise, Noise pollution, noise insulating material

Noise Pollution is Altering the Iconic Landscape and Ecosystems of the Southwest

Posted by Liz Ernst on Apr 16, 2012 5:51:00 AM

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Manmade noise is killing the Iconic Pinyon tree in the Southwest, which is relulting in the loss of habitat and resulting exodus of the scrub jay, and an increase in black chin hummingbirds, flowers, and mice.

If you're thinking that it's April showers bringing those May flowers, you might want to think again, at least if your outdoor environment is particularly noisy. It appears that noise indirectly generates an increase in the growth of flowers and hummingbird populations! Nice!

Actually, not so nice.

Of course there had to be a catch here, as noise pollution really has no positive outcome, so researchers went looking for the cause of this abundant burst of spring beauty, only to discover that the spike in flora and nectar-sipping Trochilidae is the result of a rapid decline in trees - the victims of man-made noise pollution.

In a new study published in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, researchers point to a noticeable decline in pinyon (or piñon) pine trees in noisy communities; pinyon pines rely on scrub jays to disperse their seeds. When the trees began to die off as a result of exposure to high levels of man-made noise, the scrub jays were forced to move to find new habitat. 

Interestingly, black-chinned hummingbirds actually seek out noisy areas when they go about their flower pollinating business to avoid the scrub jays, which have a taste for hummingbird nestlings and eggs.

How did reasearchers conclude that it was noise that was killing the trees and throwing the natural balance of flora and fauna off kilter? Well, they began with a hunch, since it was the noisiest communities near natural gas wells operating high-decibel compressors that were that were losing their shady spots on the Mesas and red rocks of their landscapes.

Pinyons have been part of the Southwest U.S. landscape for centuries. Their existence in the arid and rocky canyons of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California began when ancestral Puebloans, formerly known as the Anasazi, used pinyon poles as door headers in their dwellings and stashed pinyon nuts in the area more than 400 years ago.

A testament to the growing power of the pinyon, the original trees sprouted from an isolated grove found in Owl Creek Canyon near Ft. Collins, Colorado.

Scientists set up motion-activated cameras at a variety of sites in the Rattlesnake Canyon Wildlife Area, in northwestern New Mexico. Some of the sites monitored were quiet; others subjected to noise from the gas well compressors. While the scrub jays fled from their nests in the noisy areas, mice (like the hummingbirds) took advantage to feast on the pinyon seeds, and the rodent population increased.

Before the Royal Society study began, an earlier study reported that about 1,000 species of fungi, insects, arthropods, mammals and birds depend on pinyons. When it becomes evident that noise pollution has the ability to affect and potentially eradicate an entire ecosystem, the true impact of noise on the human as well as animal and plant life could be staggering.

Evolutionary Ecologist Clinton D. Francis of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center in Durham, N.C., says the noise pollution-triggered changes in these centuries-old landscapes and habitats will have a serious impact on the ecosystem of the Southwest. The scrub jays, Francis points out, will hide thousands of pinion seeds in the autumn and build up a store of food. However, they forget some of their hiding spots, and the forgotten seeds can grow into seedlings. Mice, on the other hand, tend to eat all the seeds they find, which will strip the area of the pinion pine tree eventually. Dr. Francis says he worries about the loss of pinyon pines, which play a crucial role in the ecosystem of the Southwest.

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Tags: environmental noise, noise insulating materialpinyon tree, pinon tree, hummingbirds, ecosystem, outdoor noise, industrial noise, Noise pollution, noise barrier

Not Enough People Making Noise About Noise?

Posted by Liz Ernst on Mar 28, 2012 1:50:00 AM

 

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Noise. No other pollutant ruins nearly as many lives in industrialised countries as noise – and it is the only one known to drive sufferers to murder – yet few receive so little public attention. Green pressure groups, so vocal on so many environmental threats, are almost universally silent about it. Virtually no governments, anywhere in the world, seem to be prepared to give the case for comprehensive action much of a hearing.

Hearing and health suffer. One in every eight American youngsters, aged six to 19, has been found to have noise-related hearing loss, while Stewart predicts: “Within a decade or two, the iPod in the ear could be replaced with the hearing aid.” Learning can be affected. A study in a Manhattan school found that children in classrooms beside a busy train track recorded reading scores 11 months behind their counterparts on the quiet side of the building. When measures were taken to reduce the noise, they caught up.

Two thirds of Europeans – 450 million people – are exposed every day to noise levels that the World Health Organisation (WHO) says are unacceptable. In Britain, more than half a million people appear to move home every year to escape the din. Ten years ago, a survey found that 12 million of us were disturbed by traffic, 3.5 million by passing aircraft, and 11 million by noisy neighbors. This is bound to have got worse: household noise complaints have risen five-fold over the past two decades.

Of course, we have been surrounded by sound since before birth – the womb is quite a noisy place – and noise pollution is as old as civilization. Two and a half thousand years ago, Buddhist scriptures recorded the “10 great noises” of contemporary cities as “elephants, horses, chariots, drums, tabors, lutes, songs, cymbols, gongs and people crying 'Eat ye, and drink!’  ”. Just over 100 years ago, a “plague of city noises” described in New York was not far different: “horse-drawn vehicles, pedlars, musicians, animals and bells”.

Within a few decades, this changed; the 10 most annoying noises identified in a New York survey in 1929 all emanated from machines, and since then the automated cacophony has escalated. Particularly disturbing – as a new book by one of Britain’s leading environmental campaigners, John Stewart, points out – is the low-frequency noise produced by aircraft, wind turbines and many household appliances such as washing machines and air conditioners. “The rise and rise of low-frequency noise,” he writes in Why Noise Matters, “is part of the reason for the growing number of noise complaints.”

But only part. More people say they hate piped music in shops, restaurants and public buildings than like it. Noisy neighbours occasionally provoke their victims to kill them. And while some endure – or even seem to enjoy – noise, about one in 10 people are particularly sensitive to it.

Noise also raises blood pressure and increases heart rates, especially at night, leading to cardiovascular and other diseases, as well as affecting sleep. The WHO calculated this year that Europeans collectively lose at least a million years of healthy living as a result.

Wildlife, which relies on sound to communicate, is affected too. It’s most obvious in the oceans, where underwater noise is estimated to have doubled each decade over the past 50 years – shipping has grown, oil and gas prospectors use loud blasts from “airguns” to scope the sea bed, and navies increasingly rely on sonar. Whole populations of whales and dolphins – which often use much the same frequencies – are potentially threatened, and fish catches have fallen. And noise on land disrupts intricate ecosystems of sound, where different species divide the acoustic spectrum between them so that they do not interfere with each other’s communication.

Many of the solutions are known: traffic noise could be cut by 70 per cent; shipping could be made much quieter; sound insulation in homes could reduce neighbor noise; and piped music could be simply turned off. Indeed, on Tuesday, the Noise Abatement Society will hand out awards to pioneering British councils. But, Stewart reports, only two governments – China and Hong Kong – have undertaken comprehensive programs.

In Britain, if anything, political interest has waned. The Labour government repeatedly promised to publish a consultation document on a national noise strategy, but never did so. Three years ago, the Lords passed a Bill to restrict piped music, but it was not taken up in the Commons. And the EU’s record is little better: it has neither carried out a comprehensive assessment of what the hazard costs people and society, nor set targets for its reduction – as it has with, for example, air pollution. One way or another, it is time to make a lot more noise about noise.

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Excerpted from an article by Geoffrey Lean


Tags: world health organizatrion, sound barrier, industrial noise, Noise pollution, sound abatement, noise barrier, noise insulating material, noise

Noise Pollution: Is Quiet Another Natural Resource Worth Protecting?

Posted by Liz Ernst on Feb 23, 2012 2:17:00 PM

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The Salt Lake Valley Health Department is making some changes to the current noise regulations that will address the health concerns of noise within the community, and its effects on Salt lake residents. The health department, after all, is responsible for the public’s well-being, and noise pollution is not good for anyone’s well-being.

The Salt Lake community already has some pretty impressive noise ordinances in place, but the Health Department has a hard time enforcing them since measuring noise has become trickier over the years with the advancement of technology.

Current noise regulations call for an analysis of sound readings taken during a one-second period of time, which is highly subjective. Some of the proposed amendments to Salt Lake’s current regulations will provide a time-weighted average of the impact a sound might be having. Restrictions will stay in place for garbage collection, construction work, fireworks and explosives, as well as for loading and unloading operations between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. But instead of issuing tickets for violations, the department plans to utilize technology to analyze the source of noise and to determine what kind of an impact it is having on human health.

Noise from a loud party at your next door neighbor’s will have a different effect on long term well-being than, say, noise from an ongoing construction site; Health Department officials plan to address different sources and qualities of noise to determine the appropriate action to take, the goal being to approach noise issues scientifically to preserve residents’ health and to protect the region’s nighttime quiet, which Eric Peterson, enforcement coordinator for the department's Division of Environmental Health considers a natural resource.

"We have a resource here, and that resource is a fair amount of quiet during the nighttime hours,” Peterson says. “That is not the case in many other cities and we're trying our best to preserve it.”

The list of adverse health effects of noise is growing longer, as studies are becoming more sophisticated and more comprehensive. In addition to hearing loss and tinnitus, cardiovascular disease, mental illness, sleep problems, concentration and learning impairment, are some conditions that can either be caused by or made worse by noise.

Ongoing low frequency sound, which can come from any one or more of a variety of sources including amplified music, pumps, fans, boilers, ventilation plants, foundries, blasting/quarrying, roads, rail and air traffic and electrical installations (to name just a handful)  can also cause joint damage and, as new studies suggest, even hair loss.

"We're trying to fall back to a more measurable, objective standard that applies across the country," Peterson said.

The Community Noise Pollution Control Regulation moderates sounds commonly found within residential, commercial and industrial areas.

The Salt Lake Health Department’s approach to noise pollution should be considered a promising step in the largely ignored domain of noise pollution regulation. Peterson says that it is the Health Department’s job to investigate if any harm is being done, and when it comes to noise pollution, the studies are quickly adding up to one conclusion: noise pollution is unhealthy and needs to be addressed.

While the Health Department will not be able to enforce noise regulations dealing with interstate highways, air space, railroads or military installations, it can make a dent in the everyday noise that adversely affect area residents.

"There aren't too many circumstances where we deal with people being exposed to really dangerous levels of noise," Peterson said. "For the most part, we're trying to preserve the level of quiet that we have so that as the city expands and the valley grows, we don't create new sources of harmful noise."

Tags: noise absorbing material, noise deadening, sound barrier, soundproofing, industrial noise, noise barrier, generator noise, HVAC noise, industrial noise pollution

Visit the Acoustiblok Booth at the NAHB International Builder's Show Today Through Saturday

Posted by Liz Ernst on Feb 8, 2012 3:34:00 PM

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Welcome to beautiful Orlando, Florida! Please accept our invitation to stop by the NAHB International Builder’s Show any time between now and Saturday, February 11 for four incredible days of networking, innovation, and an up close look at new products for the building products industry. 

Unwanted noise affects us all. Acoustiblok is a company that has been providing engineered soundproofing solutions to customers around the world for more than a decade. Our trained staff is available for free consultations on the hundreds of types of noise pollution that occur indoors and outdoors across industrial, commercial, residential and transportation applications.

The past 12 months have been exciting for Acoustiblok Inc., adding three new products to our line of green, award-winning sound deadening solutions for residential, commercial and industrial applications.

Drop by our booth - W2820 at the NAHB International Builders' Show.

Tags: noise absorbing material, noise deadening, sound barrier, soundproofing, industrial noise, noise barrier, generator noise, HVAC noise, industrial noise pollution, aerogel, thermal bridging, thermal insulation