How do I block out annoying sounds from my noisy neighborhood?

Photo credit: Vlad Fonsark

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

“How do I block out annoying sounds from my noisy neighborhood?” That’s the question posed and answered on The New York Times’ product review site Wirecutter, in response from someone who moved from noisy New York City to the suburbs and found that the new home was not as quiet as anticipated. As Wirecutter advice columnist Annemarie Conte notes, “you thought the grass was greener out here in the suburbs? As you’ve learned, that grass needs to be mowed—and those barking dogs, emergency vehicles, and screaming people that may have kept you up at night in an urban area have suburban counterparts. Last year, my neighbors’ roof repair apparently involved flinging old shingles from 30 feet up into an empty dumpster, which then reverberated like a timpani set in my skull for a full week.
Conte doesn’t mention what I think is the first step to blocking out annoying sounds from the neighborhood — eliminate the sound at its source. Each municipality may have ordinances governing barking dogs, use of gas-powered leaf blowers, limiting hours of construction and restricting hours when amplified music can be played outside.
There is one thing I know for sure: a quieter world will be a better and healthier world for all.
NOTE: The Quiet Coalition does not accept advertising and has no commercial relationships or sponsorships. The New York Times Wirecutter site is open access, unlike other content from the Times, but it does state, “We independently review everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.”

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