‘We know what to do. We lack the will to do it’

Photo credit: Joey Lu

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

A recent BBC report states that traffic noise pollution harms children’s health and development. Traffic noise includes aviation noise, railroad noise and road traffic noise. Traffic noise is the major component of noise pollution in the United States and Europe.

The report starts by discussing The Quiet Coalition’s Arline Bronzaft’s pioneering research on this topic in 1972. It then discusses a 2022 study in Barcelona which found that traffic noise not only affected learning but impacted brain development. The writer notes that noise pollution is worse in low-income and minority communities.

The research is strong, and there can be no rational doubt that noise pollution affects not only children’s health and development, but the health of us all. The methods of reducing traffic noise are well-known. For road traffic noise, enforcing existing laws and regulations pertaining to exhaust noise and horn use would be a good start. Reducing rail noise involves improvements to wheels and track, and measures to reduce horn use. Aviation noise can be reduced by restricting aircraft movements and requiring quieter aircraft.

“The solutions are there. We know what to do. We just lack the will to do it,” Arline said in a Sierra magazine article from 2022. We hope this BBC story will convince the public, legislators and regulators to do more to reduce traffic noise. A quieter world will be a better and healthier world for all.

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