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Echo Barrier Blog

A city that never sleeps and we know why

Posted by Tom Peary on May 24, 2020 10:40:44 AM | Acoustic Barriers|Council Responsibility Related|N

In New York, the 311 non-emergency call service gets 50,000 calls a day, and the number one complaint is noise.
It’s hardly surprising. In the city that never sleeps sound levels can reach a deafening 95 decibels in Midtown Manhattan – way above the federal government’s recommended average of no more than 70 decibels. This is why New York University has a five-year study underway – funded by the National Science Foundation – to monitor noise in the city. The Sounds of New York City project aims to track noise and its source and pass the information to the authorities. What happens next is undecided but early results are interesting. One of the quietest places identified is smack bang in the middle of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for example, which draws seven million visitors a year. Within its confines is the tiny Astor Chinese Garden Court where residents of NY can go for a spot of peace and tranquility.

What to do about the noise
No studies have been done on the change in city noise over time, whether it is getting worse or by how much. But experts point to rising complaints, more lawsuits, more people with hearing problems, and studies showing that noise has negative health effects. The Environmental Protection Agency has said that noise below an average of 70 decibels over 24 hours is safe and won’t cause hearing loss. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says anything below an 85 won’t cause hearing loss for workers exposed to loud machinery. But those levels are way above recommendations made by the European Union. In 2009, the EU set noise guidelines of 40 decibels at night to “protect human health.” And it said steady, continuous noise in the daytime – such as the noise on motorways – should not exceed 50 decibels.

Ways to reduce disruption
When it mapped noise across the US last year, the Department of Transportation found that 97 per cent of the population is subjected to man-made noise. The biggest culprit is aircraft followed by road traffic and sounds from industrial sources like oil and natural gas drilling and construction projects. This is where we come in.

Here at Echo Barrier, noise reduction is important to us and the main reason why we developed our market-leading temporary noise control solutions for the industrial, construction and entertainment sectors. Our founder, Peter Wilson, an acoustics expert, saw first-hand the problems caused by noise pollution, and understood that innovative solutions were needed to improve conditions at both construction sites and live events. Echo Barrier was born. Our award-winning acoustic barriers are easy to install, long lasting and they significantly lessen the impact of noise pollution on the local community as well as construction workers.

Other projects on the go
A few states and cities are beginning to find other noise solutions to add to acoustic barriers. In Texas, new “quiet concrete” is being tested on two stretches of highway. In Phoenix, more than 320km of highway have been resurfaced with a concrete mix that uses pieces of old tyres to dampen sound. And in other states stiff fines have been implemented for those making unnecessary noise, particularly for hot rods and tricked-out motorcycles whose exhaust systems have been manipulated to make them louder.

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