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World Health Organization Report

Posted on the right side of this website under “Reports” is the World Health Organization Guidelines for Community Noise. The consensus and qualifications of the contributors are impressive. This should be required reading for all elected officials. I wonder if trial lawyers will read this document and see the data I collected over thirteen months and have a hay day. The report talks about health problems caused by noise that may start at levels of 70dB – 75dB and severe problems occurring at 80dB and above. In thirteen months I reported almost 400 instances of noise levels from 75dB – 90dB. Somebody may add two plus two and possibly collect millions of dollars. Here are some excerpts:

“In contrast to many other environmental problems, noise pollution continues to grow and it is accompanied by an increasing number of complaints from people exposed to the noise. The growth in noise pollution is unsustainable because it involves direct, as well as cumulative, adverse health effects. It also adversely affects future generations, and has socio-cultural, esthetic and economic effects.”

“Stronger reactions have been observed when noise is accompanied by vibrations and contains low-frequency components, or when the noise contains impulses, such as with shooting noise. Temporary, stronger reactions occur when the noise exposure increases over time, compared to a constant noise exposure.” This describes the type of noise that occurs with incoming helicopters.

“Acute noise exposures activate the autonomic and hormonal systems, leading to temporary changes such as increased blood pressure, increased heart rate and vasoconstriction. After prolonged exposure, susceptible individuals in the general population may develop permanent effects, such as hypertension and ischaemic heart disease associated with exposure to high sound pressure levels.”

“Studies on the adverse effects of environmental noise on mental health cover a variety of symptoms, including anxiety; emotional stress; nervous complaints; nausea; headaches; instability; argumentativeness; sexual impotency; changes in mood; increase in social conflicts, as well as general psychiatric disorders such as neurosis, psychosis and hysteria. Large-scale population studies have suggested associations between noise exposure and a variety of mental health indicators, such as single rating of well-being; standard psychological symptom profiles; the intake of psychotropic drugs; and consumption of tranquilizers and sleeping pills.”

“For aircraft noise, it has been shown that chronic exposure during early childhood appears to impair reading acquisition and reduces motivational capabilities. Of recent concern are concomitant psychophysiological changes (blood pressure and stress hormone levels). Evidence indicates that the longer the exposure, the greater the damage. It seems clear that daycare centers and schools should not be located near major sources of noise, such as highways, airports and industrial sites.”

“Noise can produce a number of social and behavioral effects in residents, besides annoyance. The social and behavioral effects are often complex, subtle and indirect. Many of the effects are assumed to be the result of interactions with a number of non-auditory variables. Social and behavioral effects include changes in overt everyday behavior patterns (e.g. closing windows, not using balconies, turning TV and radio to louder levels, writing petitions, complaining to authorities); adverse changes in social behavior (e.g. aggression, unfriendliness, disengagement, non-participation); adverse changes in social indicators (e.g. residential mobility, hospital admissions, drug consumption, accident rates); and changes in mood (e.g. less happy, more depressed).”

“It is also suspected that people are less willing to help, both during exposure and for a period after exposure. Fairly consistent evidence shows that noise above 80dBA is associated with reduced helping behavior and increased aggressive behavior. Particularly, there is concern that high-level continuous noise exposures may contribute to the susceptibility of schoolchildren to feelings of helplessness.”

This explains a lot. It explains why someone threatened to shoot down the helicopters. It explains the angry responses at the public hearing. It explains the angry responses on the noise complaint hotline. It will be very sad on that day when someone does something foolish, gets caught and gets prosecuted. The writing is on the wall; one day someone will get angry enough or aggressive enough to do something terrible. In the meantime East Hampton Town is standing by and doing nothing to correct this insanity or shall I say, cause of insanity.

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