What Are the Health Effects of Highway Noise?
There’s a lot of discussion these days about highways, the noise they make on average and the environmental impacts. For example, the highway labeled “too loud to drive on” in your neighborhood could be an early warning sign of potential noise issues and you can take action to lessen the impact.
If you have concerns about highway noise, here are some things you can do:
1) If you are within one mile of a highway, try to find out what kind of sounds it makes. This is especially important if it has a lot of “truck noise” (which denotes a large diesel engine or other type of large sound) because this can be a sign that there is likely something wrong with that particular sound source. For example, if it sounds like an “industrial engine” and it is located next to an industrial site or near some other type of industry, then it may be worth looking into getting rid of that source. If this is not possible, find out what kind of sounds are made by your neighbors who live nearby and see if they are similar in nature. If so, then you may have discovered which type of highway noise is being made by your neighbors.
2) Talk to your neighborhood association (or government agency with jurisdiction over your neighborhood). Most often this means talking to local elected officials who decide how what types of traffic interfere with each other and how much traffic will be allowed through each day. The types of trucks and other vehicles that might cause problems for neighbors might also depend on local ordinances (for example, some neighborhoods might ban truck traffic so heavily that no truck would ever come through in the first place).
3) Get involved with opposing groups such as those advocating for more restrictive zoning laws (for example, restricting parking or prohibiting all kinds of trucks from coming through), residents associations or groups who oppose development in general because they feel it detracts from their neighborhood’s character or any groups whose main focus is environmental issues such as people concerned about global warming or traffic safety.
4) Get involved with automobile clubs such as AAA (or take part in their “See Something Say Something program”). This is because they focus a lot on safety issues but also because they can provide plenty more resources than most people realize when trying to keep themselves safe while driving down the road at night. Some AAA chapters even have “night watchmen” posted along highways at night who patrol for any suspicious activity going
How Does Sound Affect the Brain?
The brain is very active in the process of making decisions. You can see this in everyday life as well, when we are faced with a choice between two different options. One alternative might be to choose the option we want based on past experiences, but it won’t necessarily lead to the best outcome given the particular options available. In fact, if you are presented with a choice and you are not sure which one is better, what’s the best thing to do? The answer is always “it depends.” There isn’t any magic or “best” answer – you have to take many different factors into account before making a decision (e.g., how much noise is present, how much light and darkness there are, how far away your environment is from others that might be affected, etc.).
Another example: most people go out to dinner on a Friday night and expect that they will hear loud traffic in their neighborhood after dark because of the cars around them (and so they will likely go out). But this isn’t always true because there are many factors that influence whether or not we hear noise: how close our car is parked to neighbors next door; if we have an open window; if an air conditioner unit is running; if we have a dog at home; and more. Likewise with our hearing ability: if you live near an airport or train station you may be more sensitive than others (we found that even though people living near airports were just as susceptible to noise as everyone else, when it came down to it their sensitivity was lower).
In fact, some of these ways that noise affects us can be prevented entirely by using certain features on smartphones (like earbuds) or by using apps on smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. By allowing us to set up these “noise filters” in such a way that makes the sound level at home less intense than it would be otherwise, we can help make our lives easier. For example:
• Passenger Train Noise Reduction plugin for Alexa/Google Home: This plugin allows users of Alexa/Google Home devices (and other smart speakers) control of noise levels in various cities worldwide by enabling users to set up rooms where they want their voices reduced across multiple cities (or globally).
• Smart Vibration Control for Alexa/Google Home: This plugin allows users of Alexa/Google Home devices (and other smart speakers)
How Does Sound Affect Children’s Brains?
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued a public notice asking for comment on the potential impact of highway noise on children’s brains. The notice, which is available at www.dot.gov/PublicFile/PubEvents/PFOA-COSAPO-PN-2010-10-27%20Notice%20of%20Publication.pdf, links to two studies that were published in 2011 and 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found higher levels of noise exposure among children living in neighborhoods with busy highway traffic. These studies found that 5 year olds exposed to highway noise had lower scores on cognitive tests than their peers who didn’t live in areas with traffic noise, even though they were as young as five. And that’s important because cognitive development in young children starts to slow down by age 3 or 4, and typically peaks by age 7 or 8.
What are the Health Effects of Noise in Our Cities?
We live and work in a city, and we are all aware that some noise is unavoidable. However, over the last several years, there has been an increasing awareness of the health effects of noise.
Andrea Bonvillian, PhD is a well-known researcher who has spent years studying what impact sound exposure can have on health. She writes:
“We are alarmed by the growing level of noise in our cities. Our study found that noise contributes to more than half the mortality associated with being poor, being black or white, working class or lower middle class, or living alone.”
Her research shows that not only does listening to loud music increase heart disease risk but exposure to it too can lead to a variety of health problems such as hypertension and diabetes . So what should you do if you hear something that makes you uncomfortable? There are no easy answers but we can offer some suggestions here . . .
1) First off make sure it’s not hazardous materials like construction equipment or air traffic overhead. Here’s a list of some common things you may hear along your commute:
Sirens – Many police cars have sirens these days so make sure they are not using them when you hear them. It is also common for fire trucks and ambulances to use their sirens as they pass your house (they have emergency lights too! But these are not sirens).
Fireworks – It’s illegal in many places to set off fireworks after 11 p.m. so if you hear any kind of fireworks display make sure it’s at least one hour before 11 p.m., which would be after 10:30 p.m., which would be before 11 a.m., which would be before 11 p.m., which would be before 10:30 p.m…etc etc…etc.. Then again maybe they’re just practicing..
Buses – again this is illegal in many places (often because drivers don’t know this) so if you hear any kind of bus stop it’s probably legal…but again maybe they’re just practicing..
Doors – I used to think doors were pretty quiet but apparently there is no such thing as “noise-free” doors anymore…so make sure yours doesn’t have them too (you’ll often find big metal chocks on top so they don’t rattle). They may also open early enough on Saturdays & Sundays (like 7:00am) that you don’t get stuck in traffic waiting for them to
How Do I Reach Out to My Local Department of Transportation?
A big part of a city’s transportation infrastructure comes from the Department of Transportation (DoT) and its contractors. These contractors provide signs and other infrastructure, but they also spend a significant portion of their time managing the noise in our communities.
The DoT has released its annual Noise Report and it’s pretty clear: there is a massive problem with highway noise in the nation’s cities.
The statistics are staggering. According to the report, highway noise can make up to 50% of residential noise levels – making it by far the most common source of residential noise complaints across the country.
Notably, many other sources of residential noise, like train trains and construction projects, are more frequently reported as well.
You can view the complete report here . But please read it carefully; there is lots more to consider than just highways that run through your neighborhood.