The leaf blowers are killing me this year! My neighbors use them to blow even a sprinkling of leaves off their driveway, and NOTE: they only use them when I am home and recovering my sanity in my garden. Fueling my simmering irritation, during our first magical snow this season my wife and I took a moment for a walk thru the woods and what did we hear….not that soft gentle hushed sound of snow…but my neighbors snow blower. GRRRRR. I won’t go into when one neighbor left for the weekend and their car alarm went off in 15 minute continuous cycles until the battery wore down.
So this post is to say…neighbors…before you fire up your weed whacker, leaf blower, hedge trimmer, riding lawn mower, snow blower, snow mobiles, etc…. know you are effecting not just my health but yours! Study after study has found that community noise is interrupting our sleep, interfering with our children’s learning, suppressing our immune systems and even increasing our chances of having a heart attack. It is also tarnishing the Golden Rule, reducing people’s inclination to help one another.
Basically, noise causes so many horrible things that it’s a wonder there aren’t warning labels tacked to the sides of vacuum cleaners.
NOISE HARMS OUR HEALTH:
- Recent studies reveal that noise can be harmful to human health, just like water or air pollution, damaging not only hearing and sleep but raising our blood pressure to dangerous levels.
- According to the World Health Organization, noise pollution is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths a year. scientists at Imperial College London monitored the blood pressure of 140 sleeping volunteers who lived near London’s Heathrow airport. They discovered that subjects’ blood pressure rose when a plane few overhead even when the subjects remained asleep.
- A study of 5,000 45-to-70-year-olds living near airports for at least five years found that they were at greater risk of suffering from hypertension, aka high blood pressure, than their counterparts in quieter realms.
- “The idea that people get used to noise is a myth,” the Environmental Protection Agency has reported. “Even when we think we have become accustomed to noise, biological changes still take place inside us.”
- Children near the working airports had significantly higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol — the body’s so-called stress hormones.
- oh and everyone knows about irreversible hearing loss…but that’s another post. or just look here.
GET THIS: NOISE MAKES US UNHAPPY… AND MEAN:
- Studies have also shown that in the presence of continuous noise, people are less caring, communicative, and reflective.
- Extreme noise has been found to give the listener a sense of helplessness and powerlessness.
- Hospital noise has been shown to slow healing.
- In one study, people were less likely to help someone pick up a bundle of dropped books when the noise of a lawn mower was present.
- Another showed that in a noisy environment, people playing a game were more likely to see their fellow players as disagreeable or threatening.
NOISE IMPAIRS LEARNING AND CONCENTRATION (DUH):
- Another insidious effect of noise is its cultivation of what scientists call “learned helplessness.” Children given puzzles in moderately noisy classrooms are not only more likely to fail to solve them but are also more likely to surrender early.
- Many studies have shown children in schools around noise pollution had impairment in reading on standardized tests.
- In Munich, students near an airport initially scored lower than others on tests of memory. When that airport closed and moved, thier reading improved, while their counterparts living near the new airport saw a decline in scores after the switch occurred.
SO WHAT TO DO:
First everyone needs to understand there is an issue. Even in ancient Rome, chariots were banned from the streets at night to prevent clattering wheels on stones from waking people up. Here are a few places that beat that drum:
- NoiseOff.org – a Web resource for fighting local noise pollution
- Right to Quiet Society – resources, policies, etc.
- Noise Pollution Clearinghouse – great charts of noise levels of yard tools
Then of course, know there are alternatives…regular readers here know what’s coming…like quiet quiet quiet push reel mowers, back saving snow removal tools that really work, push sweepers (janitors secret weapons) and push leaf sweepers, and other fall cleanup tools like (!) rakes (!) coupled with lovely leaf bags that roll. Can’t do manual, how about electric options like electric mowers, electric blowers (still blow around allergens), and electric snow blowers (haven’t found one yet we like). So many wonderful options out there. And then of course there are the big picture alternatives like reducing your lawn size…but that is another ranting article! So in summary treasure the quite! Shhhh…..