Laura Kathleen Maize on Noise Pollution

In the past few months, my boyfriend and I have been dealing with some serious noise problems in our apartment, mostly due to some noisy neighbours and their affinity for speed metal. I’ve done a lot of research on how noise effects people, and I was surprised to learn that excessive noise is a world-wide headache—one that poses mental and physical health risks, has scientists up in arms, and is the (thankfully) the cause for some innovative new technology.

We love noise, and we hate it. Your favourite band in concert can’t be loud enough, but when car horns outside your window are keeping you awake at night, and constant cell-phone chatter has you gritting your teeth, noise can be a major pain.

Laura Kathleen Maize is a copy editor and a social media whiz. She loves to write, but has a special affinity for making other people’s writing better. She loves coffee, cats, and cooking—she is in her mid-twenties but often feels like a Golden Girl. She really likes her peace and quiet. Follow her @lauramaize

1. Living With Noise Pollution

While searching for tips on how to noise-proof my apartment, I found this piece that claims that noise is, actually, kind of inescapable. The article explains why loud noise puts people on edge, and the kind of chemical reaction noises set off in your body. More importantly, this article tells us how to live with noise–and tune it out–on a daily basis.

2. Noise kills, and blights lives in Europe

Even the World Health Organization has stepped in to deal with the issue. Chronic noise exposure, such a daytime traffic, is blamed for the deaths of thousands of people a year. Deaths? This is starting to sound a bit like a scare tactic, but it’s an interesting read on what the authorities see as the major effects of noise, and what they plan to do about it.

3. Toronto police get ‘sound cannons’ for G20

The authorities can not only help the public to quell an overabundance of noise, they also now have the means to use noise against us. Back in July 2011, the Toronto Police Service borrowed “sound cannons” to use during the G20 conference, ones that that “emit ear-blasting sounds so high in frequency they transcend normal thresholds of pain.” These devices are now a permanent fixture of the force. Here’s a handy info-graphic to show you how they work.

4. Two noise antidotes: TV-B-Gone and Simply Noise

Here are two products that can help. TV-B-Gone will turn off any public TV that you point it at. (Think bars and airport waiting lounges.) Aimed at many people who are more at ease in quiet public spaces, the product’s CEO promises that being able to turn off any offending TV will “enhance your life.” By contrast, Simply Noise is a website that generates white noise (drones made by combining all the different tones that humans can hear) in order to mask other sounds. I can’t quite wrap my head around why hearing white noise is relaxing, but it is. You can also download it as an app, should your commute be full of screaming kids.

5. Silencing Cell Phones in Public Places

Cell phones chatter is annoying, of course, which is why there are silence-only train cars and quiet study rooms in the library. This article (though hilariously dated) talks about cell phone jammers, instruments that disable cell phone reception in a specific space. They are still illegal in some countries, but handy if that whole social etiquette thing never pans out. There are many larger issues at play, but reading about how jammers work makes me want to save up and go rogue.