No mention of noise in National Public Health Week

Photo credit: Genaro Servín

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This coming Monday marks the start National Public Health Week, April 1-7, 2024. I checked the schedule of events, but didn’t see anything about noise. It is important for public health experts, and for our elected officials, to understand that noise has adverse health effects on humans and environmental effects on animals, including birds, fish and marine mammals.

In 2021, Quiet Communities president Jamie Banks and the American Public Health Association Noise Committee* she chairs revised the APHA policy statement on noise as a public health hazard. The new definition of noise, noise is unwanted and/or harmful sound, is the first sentence of the abstract and is cited in the policy statement. 

Noise pollution is often caused by internal combustion engines, and is the unwanted sound track to gaseous and particulate air pollution. Increasing electric vehicle use to reduce air pollution will also clean the air by reducing ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particulate emissions.

The first step in any 12-step recovery program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, is admitting that one has a problem. American society still refuses to accept that it has a problem with noise pollution.

I hope that calling attention to the APHA policy statement on noise, and to the new definition of noise, will help increase awareness that noise pollution is a health problem. A quieter world will be a better and healthier world for all.

*Disclosure: I serve on the APHA Noise Committee.

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