CBC MARKETPLACE: HOME » NOISE
How loud is your house? A look at the dangers
Broadcast: November 7, 2001 | Producer:
Researcher: Colman Jones
is the accumulated noise you are subjected to each day:
too many planes
the invisible pollutant, has been blamed for everything
from hypertension and learning difficulties, to suicide. More than
a decade ago, Health Canada labelled noise as a "real and
a series of tests on noise levels the average Canadian encounters at
home. We discovered
the noise problem is not getting any better.
only when it stops that you realize how noisy your home can be.
and more we are being swamped by sound. It's not just the loud noise
you know hurts your hearing, but the constant assault of sound that
batters you all day long. Scientists now say that chronic low level
noise could be hurting your health.
Dr. Arline Bronzaft, environmental
writer Ruth Abramson says the incessant noise outside her Vancouver
apartment forces her to leave home for long periods. The traffic
never stops, there's ongoing construction and music blares from
her apartment for extended stretches means Abramson can't work and
can't relax. She says she's so agitated by all the noise outside
her apartment, the only things creative she writes lately are noise
tire more easily. Sometimes I can't sleep," Abramson told Marketplace. "It
gives me headaches. I open my window for a breath of air
to relax and all of a sudden there will be a power drill in the
psychologist Dr. Arline Bronzaft says what Abramson is facing can
do long term harm.
Backup Warning Devices,
radar alarm systems that can reduce or eliminate noise
from backup beepers, by sensing objects behind a vehicle
and alerting the operator to their presence
Baby Muff, a noise reduction garment to be worn by pregnant
women to protect their unborn child
Quiet dishwashers include ASKO,
30 per cent of the unit's weight consisting of
sound deadening material; Bosch, whose highly advanced,
integrated sound reduction system makes it one
of the quietest dishwashers available in North
America; and Electrolux AEG
There are anti-bark dog collars to stop nuisance barking,
like the Citronella Spray Collar, which emits a mild citric acid mist
with each bark, or the Electric shock collar, which emits a mild electric
One of the quieter garage door openers is the Whisper
Drive by Liftmaster, ideal for garages with living space above or directly
Noise Cancellation Technologies Inc. makes headphones and earmuffs that
use active noise control to cancel rather than muffle low-frequency noise,
including Noisebuster Extreme Plantronics PC Headset -- A "lightweight,
portable, and private alternative to PC microphones and speakers"
Push lawn mowers, including
the Sunlawn, one of the lightest, quietest push
reel mowers available, the #1 selling push mower
in Europe. There are even quiet electric lawn
mowers, like the battery powered RoboMow "practically
silent, with low energy consumption and no pollution";
one made by Toro Carefree Electrics "Quiet
operation improves audio environment up
to 75 per cent quieter than gas mowers";
and two solar-powered mowers, the fully automatic,
almost entirely silent Electrolux Solar Mower,
the first lawn mover ever to be powered by sunlight
only, and the "Almost Soundless" Husqvarna
has increased tremendously in the last 30 years," Bronzaft
says. "It's not just a nuisance, particularily if it intrudes
on our daily life."
has made noise her business. She's authored one of many studies
linking low level urban noise to health problems, including:
and digestive problems
problems in children
levels, complaints rising
Britain, health officials estimate 12 million people suffer from
noise-related health problems. In Toronto, noise was blamed after
a man was charged with shooting to death two neighbours.
groups across the country are fighting to cut noiseload and stop
sound abuse. Bronzaft suggests the number of complaints are not
rising rapidly because people may not be aware that they are affected
tiredness, their stressfulness, may all be due to noise in their
lives. And they are not even cognisant of it. And number two, many
people think no one is going to listen to them and do anything
study found even the noise in an office can hurt workers' performance.
When compared to staff in a quiet room, workers in a noisier office
had higher blood pressure, poor concentration and focus - even though
they didn't consider the noise a problem.
feel it even more. Bronzaft's study suggests children have trouble
concentrating and reading when exposed to low level, chronic noise.
my study grade six kids were one year behind in reading because
of noisy elevated train tracks," Bronzaft told Marketplace.
estimated a million Canadian kids could be in similar situations
because their schools are too close to busy traffic or airports.
New research is finding even noisy homes are hurting children.
NEXT: Marketplace tests
noise levels in the home »