Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Spring 2014, page 3

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Update of WHO guidelines for community noise for the European Region

WHO/Europe is currently updating the 1999 WHO Guidelines for Community Noise. The update will include a review of evidence on the health effects of environmental noise, and address several additional sources of noise and community settings, such as personal electronic devices and wind turbines. The process for updating the guidelines is complex, involving the work of top scientists from across the world under the coordination of WHO.

The revised guidelines will focus on the WHO European Region and provide guidance to its Member States that is compatible with the noise indicators used in the European Union (EU) Directive on Environmental Noise. The 2002 EU Directive introduced annual average indicators of noise exposure (Lden and Lnight) as long ­term exposure indicators, which differ from those used in the WHO guidelines for community noise of 1999.

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Long Beach hopes mulch wall will make Hudson Park a healthier place

By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times

Long Beach has erected a new fortification in the battle against freeway noise and air pollution, and it's decidedly low-tech. It's called "The Great Wall of Mulch." City officials gathered to top off a 12-foot-high barrier of shredded tree clippings held together by two chain-link fences — a low-cost structure designed to dampen the sound and block the sight of diesel trucks from the heavily travelled Terminal Island Freeway.

"This is not just going to be good for sound pollution, it's not just good for visual blight, but it's the first sound wall that I know of that's also going to improve air quality," said City Councilman James Johnson as he hopped a-board a cherry picker with Mayor Bob Foster to dump a final, golden bucketful of mulch atop the 3-foot-thick wall. While more traditional concrete sound walls shield many homes from the freeway, there was nothing but a chain-link fence between the complex of sports fields at west Long Beach's Hudson Park and the trucks that serve the nation's largest port complex.

Johnson said the city came up with the idea of using mulch from its tree-trimming operations because it's more visually pleasing, graffiti-proof and practically free. The city plans to plant trees and shrubs along the wall to ab-sorb air pollutants, such as the fine particulates in diesel

exhaust. Dirty air is a long-running health concern in the neighbourhood west of the 710 Freeway.

For now, city officials are testing the wall on a 600-foot stretch of the Terminal Island Freeway that fronts the popular park. The wall could be extended by thousands of feet to protect nearby schools and ball fields if it proves effective at blocking the sound, sight and pollution from thousands of diesel trucks that rumble by each day.

The Port of Long Beach is funding the $150,000 demonstration project, mostly to pay for the green-coloured chain-link fencing that holds in the mulch like a giant cage. The port also will conduct testing to gauge how well the wall blocks sound and how well the mulch holds up after it starts to settle and decompose.

The wall of mulch sits across the freeway from a 153-acre site slated for the construction of the Southern California International Gateway — a $500-million rail yard approved by the Los Angeles City Council in May. Long Beach city officials, environmentalists and community groups fiercely oppose the project on the grounds that it will send polluted air into low-income neighbourhoods, schools and parks.

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Do-nothing report on noisy air conditioners rejected by city committee

By Jen Keiller

CBC News, Feb 18, 2014

Air conditioners heat up noise complaints

Calgary mayor aims to quiet noisy air conditioners

Council asked for a report in 2012 about what can be done about air conditioners that make noise reverberating between homes. A city committee has rejected the report that only consulted the industry and not the public and recommended no bylaw changes.

It angered some members of the committee, including

Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Coun. Druh Farrell. “How do you think people who are impacted by this will react to this report, which is basically saying, 'Suck it up, it's not an issue, you're too sensitive, and we'll just keep on doing what [we] have been doing,’” said Farrell.

The city is going to take another look at the issue of noisy air conditioners in residential areas. It’s now calling for a public consultation and for another report to be presented in September 2014.

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