April 22 is Earth Day—a time to celebrate nature and to protect the earth against pollution. April also marks the beginning of the Noise Parade! Excessive noise is an often-overlooked cause of pollution. We are constantly bombarded by excessive noise—from gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers, motorcycles, loud car stereos, barking dogs, helicopters, airplanes, noisy neighbors, car traffic, helicopters, raucous restaurants, back-up beepers, honking horns tied to keyless entry systems, train horns, car alarms…did I mention motorcycles?
Noise pollution is real. Heart disease, high blood pressure, hearing loss, sleep deprivation, ringing of the ears, headaches, and chronic fatigue are more prevalent in acoustically chaotic neighborhoods. Excessive noise is a cause of reduced property values and decreased job and academic performance.
High-intensity sound harms Nature’s ecosystem. It can induce fear, causing species to abandon their habitat. Have you noticed the birds are chirping louder? They’re competing with the constant outdoor din. Since the 1960s, there has been a 16-fold increase in ocean noise—posing a threat to fish, dolphins, and other marine life.
Most noise makers are air polluters. Garden equipment is responsible for about five percent of the nation’s air pollution. An EPA study indicates that a gas-powered leaf blower creates as much nitrogen oxide emissions and volatile organic compounds in one hour as 11 cars being driven for one hour.
What can be done? Speak up. Ban gas-powered leaf blowers. Enforce noise ordinances, especially unmuffled cars and motorcycles. Turn down the decibel levels on fire engine, police and ambulance sirens. Reinstate the federal noise pollution control office. Join the anti-noise cause with Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet.
And for god’s sake, turn it down!