Quiet-List 1997

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Date: Tue, 17 Jun 97 08:41:26 EDT
From: "David Staudacher" <quiet@igc.org>
To: earprint@sirius.com
Subject: Re: Nature Sounds Society annual Field Recording Workshop
X-POPMail-Charset: English

On Mon, 16 Jun 1997 00:26:03 -0700 (PDT), 
Jason Reinier  <earprint@sirius.com > wrote:

>Dear David:  Thank You for distributing the NSS Workshop announcement to
>the Acoustic Ecology list serve.  Will you be able to make it?

Hi Jason.

   Unfortunately, no.  I live in Michigan, and my vacation plans for 
this year have had to be postponed until October.  I'd really like to 
get out there sometime, though.

   Right now I'm working closely (over the 'net) with a group from 
the Vancouver-Victoria-Seattle area called "Right to Quiet".  
Although our focus is mostly on urban noise issues, we are very 
much in support of efforts like yours to conserve quiet places.  We 
have recently started an internet mailing list ("quiet-list@igc.org") 
for which I am the list administrator.  We would very much like to 
have you and/or any of your members as subscribers.  To subscribe, 
send an email message containing the words "subscribe quiet-list"
to "majordomo@igc.org".   

   Also, one of our subscribers has requested information on efforts 
to set up "acoustic reserves" where people can go who seek quiet.
As your "Quiet Places Campaign" sounds like just such a project, I was 
wondering if you could send me some additional information on it?  
With your permission, I'd like to distribute it on our mailing list.  

    Thank You,

    David Staudacher - quiet@igc.org

P.S. Here is a copy of the F.A.Q. for our mailing list.  

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Quiet-List  F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Questions)

Version 1.2

Send corrections and additions to listowner "quiet@igc.org" 


1. Goals of the Society
2. How can I support Right to Quiet?
3. How do I Subscribe/Unsubscribe/Post Messages? 
4. What is Noise Pollution?
5. How does the Decibel Scale work?
6. How loud does Noise have to be before it's Dangerous?
7. Doesn't the Law Protect me against Noise? 
8. Where are the Internet Sites for Noise Pollution?    


The Right to Quiet Society for Soundscape Awareness and Protection is
a non-profit organization registered under the British Columbia
Society Act. We have been active since 1982. 


   To promote awareness of the ever-increasing problem of noise
pollution and the dangers of noise to our physical, emotional,
and spiritual well-being, as well as to the well-being of other
creatures on the planet to work for reduction of noise through better
regulation and enforcement and by encouraging responsible behaviour
to foster recognition of the Right to Quiet as a basic human

   We do not seek to create an absolutely quiet world. However, we
want to see a world where quiet is a normal part of life and where
it is possible to listen to the sounds of nature without the constant
intrusion of machine noise and artificial stimuli.

   We want our homes to be havens from unwanted noise, and we ask
that the soundscape of our public spaces -- which is common property,
like the air we breathe -- be respected. 

   We insist on our right to listen, or not listen, to music and
other program audio according to our own tastes and moods, without
having other people's choices forced on us wherever we go.

   And we want to be able to attend movies, listen to speeches, and
even go dancing without being deafened by unreasonably loud amplification.

Here are some of our specific goals:

   . Stricter regulation of aircraft flights over populated areas
     and national parks

   . Creation of noise-free wilderness areas where overflights
     would be forbidden

   . Better enforcement of laws governing unmuffled vehicles, especially
     chopper motorcycles

   . Regulation of noise-producing watercraft, especially personal  

   . More stringent manufacturing standards for all noise-producing

   . Outright ban on leaf-blowers, or at least a drastic reduction
     in permitted dates and hours of use

   . Reductions in the permitted hours of power gardening
     (lawn-mowers, trimmers, etc.)

   . Regulation of maximum noise levels of sirens, and reduction
     in volume when used by night

   . Regulation of maximum noise levels of backup beepers, with
     sensible rules about what vehicles are to be equipped with them

   . Ban on audible car alarms

   . Elimination of boom cars

   . Ban on personal amplified radio and music in most public spaces,
     beginning with the declaration of more parks and beaches as quiet

   . Regulation of allowable noise emanating from outdoor concerts,
     rallies, and public address systems at sports fields, car lots, 

   . Regulation of safe amplification levels in night clubs and
     movie theatres

   . Ban, or enforcement of existing bans, on broadcast of program audio
     from commercial establishments into public spaces

   . Voluntary reduction in the amount of program audio piped into
     private establishments such as restaurants, shops, malls, and
     doctors' and dentists' offices

   . Recognition of the right to quiet in the workplace -- no unwanted
     program audio

   . Elimination of program audio from publicly owned places such
     as recreation centres and museums, except where clearly appropriate

   . Recognition of noise as cruelty to animals -- for example,
     to pets in stores or homes where loud music is constantly played

   . Banning acoustic deterrent devices from fish-farms,
     and other uses of noise to terrorize animals

   . Putting a stop to marine experiments that involve the generation
     of loud underwater noises, affecting the lives of millions of


Right to Quiet Society
#359, 1985 Wallace Street
Vancouver BC
Canada V6R 4H4
Phone (604) 222-0207

Membership Application

   Yes, I want to join the growing movement against noise pollution
and for the recognition of my Right to Quiet. Here are my first
year's dues.

   The Right to Quiet Society for Soundscape Awareness and Protection
is a registered charitable society. All contributions are tax-deductible
in Canada, and a receipt for income tax purposes will be sent.  You will
also receive our printed newsletter (generally published twice a year).

   If you live in Canada, please pay by check in Canadian funds. If you
live in another country, pay the same amount in U.S. funds, by check on
a U.S. bank or international money order.

   Single                    $10.00
   Family                     15.00
   Student/Senior/Low-income   5.00
   Business                   50.00
   Non-profit organization    23.00


    To subscribe, email a message to "majordomo@igc.org" as follows:

    1. Leave the subject line blank
    2. In the body of the message type: "subscribe quiet-list"
    3. You will receive a verification message to assure that you are in
       fact the same person who wants to subscribe.  This is a security
       feature which prevents anyone else from adding you to a list
       without your knowledge.           
    4. Reply to the verification message   

    If you want to remove yourself from this mailing list, send an email
       to "majordomo@igc.org" as follows: 

    1. Leave the subject line blank
    2. In the body of the message type: "unsubscribe quiet-list" 
    3. You will receive a confirmation message.

       Note: you must send this message from the same e-mail address 
    which you used to subscribe to the list.

       PLEASE NOTE: If your mailing id is going to expire, or you plan
    to switch id's it's very helpful to unsubscribe from the old id, or
    notify "quiet@igc.org" of the change.  Otherwise our mailbox gets 
    cluttered with error messages when we try to forward "quiet-list" 
    messages to a dead id.
       If you find you are having trouble subscribing or unsubscribing, 
    please send a message describing the problem to "quiet@igc.org".

To post a message to this list, use the address "quiet-list@igc.org". 


   Noise pollution is not easily defined. Part of the difficulty lies in
the fact that in some ways it is different from other forms of pollution. 
   Noise is transient; once the pollution stops, the environment is free of
it.  This is not the case for chemicals, sewage, and other pollutants 
introduced into the air, soil, or water.  Other forms of pollution can be
measured, and scientists can estimate how much material can be introduced
into the environment before harm is done.  Though we can measure individual
sounds that may actually damage human hearing, it is difficult to monitor
cumulative exposure to noise or to determine just how much is too much.

   The definition of noise itself is highly subjective. To some people the 
roar of an engine is satisfying or thrilling; to others it is an annoyance.
Loud music may be enjoyable or a torment, depending on the listener and the

   Broadly speaking, any form of unwelcome sound is noise pollution, whether
it is the roar of a jet plane overhead or the sound of a barking dog a block 
away.  One measure of pollution is the danger it poses to health. Noise 
causes stress, and stress is a leading cause of illness and suicide. 
Therefore any form of noise can be considered pollution if it causes 
annoyance, sleeplessness, fright, or any other stress reaction. 

   The actual loudness of a sound is only one component of the effect it has 
on human beings. Other factors that have to be considered are the time and 
place, the duration, the source of the sound, and whether the listener has 
any control over it. Most people would not be bothered by the sound of a
21-gun salute on a special occasion. On the other hand, the thump-thump of a
neighbour's music at 2 a.m., even if barely audible, could be a major source
of stress.


   The decibel (dB) is a measure of sound intensity; that is, the magnitude 
of the fluctuations in air pressure caused by sound waves. The decibel scale
is logarithmic, not arithmetic. This means that a doubling of sound intensity
is not represented as a doubling of the decibel level. In fact, an increase 
of just 3 dB means twice as much sound, and an increase of 10 dB means ten 
times as much sound.

   A sound pressure level of 0 dB represents the threshold of hearing in the 
most sensitive frequency range of a young, healthy ear, while the thresholds 
of tickling or painful sensations in the ear occur at about 120 to 130 dB. 

   Decibels are usually measured with a filter that emphasizes sounds in 
certain frequencies. The "A" filter (dBA) is the one most frequently used.
The "C" filter (dBC) puts more weight on low-frequency sounds such as the
bass in amplified music.


   Because permanent hearing loss is usually a long-term process, it is
impossible to know at exactly what point noise becomes loud enough to cause
damage to the ears. However, many experts consider it unsafe to be exposed 
indefinitely to a sound level of 85 dBA or higher. 

   Workers are typically prohibited by regulation from being exposed to 
85 dBA for longer than eight hours a day. Since sound intensity doubles with 
every increase of 3 dB, the time of permitted exposure must be cut in half 
with each such increase. Thus a worker would have to wear ear protection if 
exposed to 88 dBA for four hours, 91 dBA for two hours, and so on.

   Using this measure of safety, the sound level in a typical night club,
110 dBA, would pose a risk of permanent hearing damage after less than two
minutes of exposure.

   Of course, noise is dangerous in other ways too. It can be a cause of
stress, illness, suicide, aggression, and violence. As stated above, the
volume of noise is only one component in its effect.


   In Canada and the United States there are no national, provincial, or
state laws that give blanket protection against noise, though there are some 
specific regulations governing manufacturing standards, air traffic, vehicle
mufflers, and so on. Criminal laws may also cover things like noisy parties. 

   Governments have traditionally viewed noise as a "nuisance" rather than
an environmental problem. As a result, most regulation has been left up to 
municipal authorities.

   Noise bylaws and ordinances vary widely from one municipality to another
and indeed do not even exist in some towns and cities. Where they exist, they
may contain a general prohibition against making noise that is a nuisance to 
other people, or they may set out specific guidelines for the level of noise 
allowable at certain times of the day and for certain activities. Exceptions 
are generally made for activities considered legitimate or necessary, such as
lawn-mowing or garbage collection. 

   Regardless of how lax or stringent a local law may be, enforcement is
difficult. Many municipalities do not have adequate resources to follow up
on complaints. Even where a municipality has an enforcement office, it may
be unwilling to do more than issue warnings, since taking offenders to court
is expensive. The police may also act on certain kinds of noise complaints, 
but generally do not assign them a high priority.

   For persistent nuisances, the individual may have to seek damages through 
the civil courts. This can be a long, costly procedure with no certainty of

   In short, legal protection against noise is very patchy and often 

   . Right to Quiet - "http://www.islandnet.com/~skookum/quiet"; 

   . Noise Pollution Clearing House  -
   . U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) -

   . Citizens' Coalition Against Noise (C.C.A.N.)/Toronto -

   . The Noise Center - "http://www.lhh.org/noise";

   . World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (WFAE) -  

   . The Quiet Use Coalition - email "jetchalk@chaffee.net"

   . Adverse Health Impacts of Airport Expansion - 

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