International Noise Awareness Day, How aware are we?

April 25th is International Noise Awareness Day – an event conceived 17 years ago, to combat the impact of noise on hearing and health. The evidence for the impact of noise on health now goes way beyond hearng damage from extreme noise events. Equally evidence of the cost of noise to society is growing – whether it be damage to hearing from listening to music too loud for too long, or the more insidious impact of long term exposure to transport noise. Environmental noise alone is estimated to cost UK society £7-10 billion a year, and that does not include the cost of noisy neighbours – for example the impact of disrupted sleep and expense of services enforcing noise laws.

More recently, (quiet) concern has been raised about the impact of human generated noise on wildlife – and its potential to disrupt the natural soundscape – the multiple sounds living things other than us use to signal and communicate to each other. At the same time, the value of open, green outdoor space, that is also peaceful, is being recognised as important in promoting mental health and in encouraging physical activity. So, on International Noise Awareness Day, Noise Action Week encourages everyone to take a few minutes to enjoy some quiet time away from our increasingly noisy lives. (If you can’t get outside – you may have to allow the rain beating on the window to drown out the burble of busy lives!)

During Noise Action Week – we will urge you to think about what you can do to reduce the impact of noise on others. In the mean time, find out what is happening to raise awareness of noise issues where you live – by asking your local council noise team, mediation service, housing provider or community group – and encourage them to take part in promoting simple solutions available to many of our everyday noise problems during Noise Action Week 2012.

1. More on INAD, co-ordinated by the US Centre for Hearing and Communication http://www.chchearing.org/noise-center-home/international-noise-awareness-day
2. Information on noise from Defra – http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/noise/
3. Natural Soundscapes vs human noise – http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/nature_studies/nature-studies-by-michael-mccarthy-from-ants-to-birds-to-whales-theres-a-soundscape-to-be-marvelled-at-7658003.html
4. Public Health White Paper 2010 states ‘reducing noise and the availability of open spaces influences the health and well-being of the population’. http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_121941

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