Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Fall 2006 - page 4

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International Noise Awareness Day observed

On April 26, 2006 some members and supporters of our Society were out again at various locations to hand out leaflets and speak with people to raise awareness about noise and its adverse effects. We issued a press release and wrote to our 75 Members of the Legislative Assembly (provincial parliament) in Victoria, of whom we requested more rigorous enforcement of the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act with respect to deliberately modified mufflers on "chopper"

 

motorbikes, and to amend the Act to make "boom-cars" illegal.

We received 12 "auto-replies" acknowledging receipt of our message, one MLA forwarded it to the ministers of education and transport, 2 others forwarded it to the solicitor general who is responsible for the Motor Vehicle Act. A slightly longer, adapted version of that message (please see below) will be sent to our 308 MPs in Ottawa this fall.

 


Letter to Members of Parliament, Ottawa

Noise has reached an alarming proportion in the industrialised world, particularly in urban areas. An ever growing human population is using, and, unfortunately, misusing sound-emitting machinery and gadgets. Ever more powerful amplifying equipment now allows users to produce literally deafening sound. Sadly, there is not merely a risk to the hearing. There are rather detrimental auditory and non-auditory effects. A German physician explained that noise is a psychological pollutant. Just like ultra-violet light, sound is converted into chemical signals. If they reach high levels, the immune system is weakened and general resistance decreases. Exposure to noise has hormonal and somatic-nervous effects.

A Dutch study (University of Utrecht) found that the body's immune response is adversely affected by noise. As an uncontrollable stressor, noise can have consequences for health, because it may interfere with cytokine and interleukin-6 function, which plays an essential role in activating the immune defence. Noise also produces high levels of cortisol, which suppresses the immune system. And there are many more similarly detrimental effects, even at levels far below the potential to cause hearing damage.

The pathological effects of all kinds of noise are very costly, indeed. About 5 years ago a study by Infras Zuerich, Switzerland, and the University Of Karlsruhe, Germany, found that the annual environmental cost to the European Union from traffic noise alone is around 40 billion Euro (approximately $72 billion!). According to a calculation in Germany (Marius Weinberger, commissioned by the Institute of Traffic Science at the University of Cologne), already during the early nineties noise related costs to German society totalled over 30 billion D-Mark (about $23 billion)annually! That alone should trigger enough motivation to prevent and abate noise, and thereby reduce our rising health-care costs.

 

 

There is a lot of noise that is made ONLY for the sake of making noise. Surely, two of the most notorious sources of this type of totally unnecessary noise are "boom-cars" and "chopper" motorbikes with deliberately modified mufflers. They serve no other purpose than to impose, intimidate, even assault, for which they ought to be outlawed.

In the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act there is a provision regarding altered mufflers. Unfortunately, it is very poorly enforced. With respect to boom-cars, we know of no provincial or federal law with any "bite" to eliminate that plague of civil society. There is great need to supplement what little municipal regulation there is with provincial and federal laws, to give police appropriate tools in places that lack municipal bylaws.

We ask and, indeed, urge you to help implement amendments to existing pertinent laws and/or introduce new laws to allow law-enforcement officers to effectively deal with the growing number of noise-makers. On the federal level, for instance, the issue could be addressed with appropriate requirements re. manufacturing and imports!

Simultaneously and equally importantly, for positive change and prevention of such problems in the future, we petition you to work for comprehensive "soundscape education" in the entire school system, to which we could contribute some existing educational material and ideas of what to do.

Each year in April we observe the Annual International Noise Awareness Day (next: April 25, 2007) on which we encourage people to join the "quiet-diet" by observing a minute of silence at 2:15 p.m. Perhaps you have a chance to reflect on our request for a minute. I invite you to visit at our website < www.quiet.org > and look forward to your reply.

Sincerely, Hans Schmid


Quiet accommodation

Surveys show that more than one out of three people say they rarely get a good night's sleep when traveling. So, Minneapolis-based hotel chain AmericInn is promising complete quiet in all rooms. The chain has more than 200 hotels in 23 states. CEO Arnold Angeloni says the silent treatment starts with construction - masonry walls and floors, concrete-block walls filled with foam, insulated windows, and guest-room doors with thresholds to cut down on hallway noise.

The Vancouver Sun

Entire contents © 2006 Right to Quiet Society. Cartoon © 1996 Right to Quiet Society
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