Noise reduction is a key to wellness

Photo credit: Pixabay

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Noise reduction is a key to wellness. That is not only true, it’s also the title of an article in the magazine Kitchen & Bath Design News. Writer Jamie Gold discusses the importance of sound, or really of quiet, in home design. Quiet Communities’ founder and president Jamie Banks is among the experts Gold consulted for the article. 

This month we’re commemorating the fourth anniversary of COVID lockdowns and the disastrous response from the federal government under the previous administration. Because of political interference with the nation’s public health infrastructure,  the United States had the highest rates of infection and death among any major industrialized nation. This interference started with disbanding the Directorate of Global Health Security and Biodefense in the National Security Council in 2018 and continued with the former president refusing to acknowledge the scope of the pandemic.

The death rate in the U.S. was 341 per million. Most European nations had about 250 deaths per million, and densely populated South Korea only had 66 deaths per million. Hundreds of thousands of Americans died from COVID needlessly. If the U.S. had done as well as South Korea, only 225,000 Americans would have died during the pandemic years, not 1.1 million. 

Banks said that during lockdowns, many homes became quieter due to reductions in air and road traffic. But in other ways they became noisier inside. Both parents, or all people sharing a living space, were trying to work from home. Children were at home, attending school remotely. Restaurants, movie theaters and retail stores were closed. Gyms were closed, so people exercised at home. Everything changed.

Chronic noise can damage our ears and cause hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis. Banks adds that “chronic noise, even at low levels, can cause sleep disruption and stress that contribute to cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, metabolic disturbances, exacerbation of psychological disorders, immune system problems and premature mortality.”

Sound is one of the 10 concepts in the WELL Building Standard, and the new WELL for residential standard. Usually noise considerations are an afterthought for architects and designers, only dealt with after a noise problem becomes too obvious to ignore. We are glad that noise in homes is now recognized as an important factor in design, and for wellness.

A quieter world will be a better and healthier world for all.

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