‘Cancelling noise’

Photo credit: Pok Rie

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

“Cancelling Noise” is the title of a wonderful essay in Canada’s The Globe and Mail. In the essay, Author Michael Harris describes the deleterious effects of noise pollution on humans and animals.

Noise has both auditory and non-auditory health effects, and Harris notes that noise pollution affects how we think. He also mentions The Quiet Coalition’s Arline Bronzaft’s work, which shows that noise affected children’s learning.  The American public, most doctors, public health experts and bureaucrats in state and federal governments are still unaware of this reality. 

I have two minor quibbles with Harris’ essay. I wish he had used the new definition of noise: noise is unwanted and/or harmful sound. I also wish he had discussed “quiet” rather than “silence.” I don’t think people want tomb-like silence. What they want is quiet, so they can hear the birds sing, the squirrels chatter or understand what their dining companion is saying in a restaurant. They want uninterrupted sleep, something vital to health.

But his essay is well worth reading, and I hope it influences the way we think about noise in both Canada and the United States. A quieter world will be a better and healthier world for all.

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