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Noise pollution hurts the heart (theatlantic.com)
246 points by prostoalex 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 276 comments

I feel the sound -> stress connection palpably. Especially sudden loud noises like a horn honking cause me to feel upset for a long while after being startled.

Seems like a convincing argument to me for car-free spaces, although honestly I just wish we had stronger social norms against unnecessarily using a car's horn.

This was interesting for me, too. At the end of 2017 I moved into a new apartment, with a great view on a very busy road. I immediately felt much more "off". Maybe stressed in a way, but since I'm not usually the stressed kind, I had a hard time identifying the feeling.

At around the same time, the AC in the office developed a constant hum. This drove me nuts.

When I went to my parents' house in the suburbs, I could hear the silence and really, really enjoy it. I realized that basically, during a regular day, I could never get to spend a moment in silence. There would always be some kind of noise: traffic outside my apartment window, metro / bus / traffic during the commute, random people talking / AC hum at the office.

This made me wonder whether all the people that I see around me being constantly angry and "on the edge" might be that way in part because they basically never catch a break. They are constantly under this continuous noise. And I don't think we can really get used to it. I remember a friend said that I'd get used to the noise when I would complain. It's more than 3 years later, and it still annoys to me no end. I may sometimes forget the noise is there, but I think it still has its effect on my stress level. It's not like getting used to lifting weights or something to which the body adapts.

It was a culture shock for me as a Californian to visit Tokyo. In my mind cities are dirty, loud, and dangerous.

Tokyo despite being one of the densest and busiest cities in first world countries is incredibly clean, quiet, and safe.

Can you say a little bit more about this? What's the difference in how the cities are structured that makes this so?

Very strong mass transit systems, so there are fewer cars on the road.

The cars that are on the road tend to be quite new, which is a result of a stringent mandatory inspection after a car gets older that makes it more economical to export the car and buy a new one. So cars are typically in excellent repair, with a small economical engine. The driving culture is generally conservative. People don't race each other, compete for the loudest exhaust, roll coal, etc.

The cities are much more walkable as well. It was mind-blowing to use Google Maps for walking and transit door to door including specific numbered staircases for train stations with precise to the minute schedules for the trains.

I think partially they just care more. I remember when I visited Tokyo on a trip and would always see a decibel monitor on construction sites. I believe there was also a sign indicating the acceptable level of noise based on the time of day.

Ear plugs are and one of the greatest inventions of humanity :-)

No joking: I use to work, sleep, public transport, and every time I want some piece of mind.

I've always thought of ear plugs as the quintessentially American solution to the problem. Here we have people tragedying all over the commons, and the solution is for individuals to all individually purchase a mitigation for themselves, instead of attempting to prevent the problem in the first place. Same for water pollution. Problem: the water supply is polluted. Americanized solution: Everyone needs to buy filters for their tap or boil their water. Real solution: Regulation to prevent the pollution in the first place.

It's worse - if someone has a loud party late at night or plays music loudly and you ask them to turn it down, you're the bad one for imposing and butting into someone's business.

Noise pollution is a form of torture. I don't understand why our society doesn't fight it more. I've tried earplugs but they are very uncomfortable to sleep with, and usually give me dizziness the next day.

I have stopped explaining people how my neighbor's friends honking when coming in and leaving drives me up the wall. There's the sound and then there's the rage from "that was fucking useless to do, you just spent 15 minutes saying goodbye on the doorstep, it 11PM, please be quiet" but I am the grumpy one. So I say nothing anymore.

Fun thing is, when I am in the city, I like opening the windows in summer and car noises don't bother me much because it's normal and part of the scenery.

But then I am perfectly capable of putting on my pajamas past 10PM, climb down the stairs from the flat to the street, knock on the car's window and ask the driver to turn off the engine because the low humming noise I hear in my bed is driving me insane. It's when the sound is useless and could be easily prevented that I get crazy. Misophonia very much also.

Maybe it's the lack of consideration that annoys you more than the noise itself?

Not the parent, but that's the main reason for me. I can tolerate loud noises like thunder, road work, renovation in the building (at reasonable hours, of course) without much of an issue.

However, stuff like

- Modified motorcycle that makes an insane amount of noise for no intelligent reasons

- People playing bassy music that resonate across the walls of the entire building (low frequencies)

- Constant pop music everywhere you go

Are seriously getting on my nerves.

Definitely, should have written it down in my comment rather than describing my experience. This is a huge aspect of what grinds my gears.

But there's also some speech patterns that get on my nerves in public transport and it's not really (at least most of the time) a lack of consideration from the people though (but it happens way less often).

Yeah, that's the part that gets me too - the lack of consideration. I live near a hospital and have zero problem with the near-constant sirens, but people gunning their loud engines at stoplights will cause me to rage.


> likely

I do not think that word means what you think it means. Please stop trolling HN. Your comments are filled with baseless claims such as this.


Honestly I feel like my comment was pretty clear.

1. You are not "likely" to be shot, as that implies it is the probable thing to happen. This is clearly false. Go knock on 100 car windows and you most likely won't get shot once, let along 50 times.

2. You are trolling HN. You're intentionally making outlandish political claims that have no basis in reality (such as the one above), in order to "stir the pot".

edit: If anyone needs any more proof, just read their comment history. Earlier today they brought up how the "forced sterilization of conservatives" would solve some problem or another. Comment seems to be gone now. But their comment history is full of other obvious troll comments.

I have a neighbor that has deliberately made their car exhaust very loud, and they frequently just go and sit in their car idling for long periods of time, upwards of an hour. A couple of weeks ago they were out there at 2 in the morning for over an hour, making it impossible to sleep. The sound is so loud it vibrates my floor.

I have been very tempted to go ask them to please be respectful, but because of the gun situation here, I truly am personally terrified of being shot if I do so. This is not trolling and is not outlandish, it is my honest, actual assessment based on a current situation I'm enduring.

You are being dismissive saying my comments are obviously trolling and not allowing for me to just have wildly different viewpoints compared to your own.

Well, I hope you never have to travel to India where people honk when the red light is on. Why? Coz they're bored and they "want" the light to turn green.

For the sake of the people living in India we probably all hope that such norms fade over time.

I've read about an experiment where increasing the noise level of carhorns on the inside of the car reduced horn usage significantly. Maybe there's some smart way to use tweaks like that in future regulation.

I have this wild pet idea that we should be have a meter connected to a car's horn and at the end of the year you have to pay a bill for the amount you used. Something like $0.10 / second. You'll still honk when you need to but think twice before using it to annoy other drivers.

I like your thinking but the dystopian reality would be a wealthy elite class of honkers giving us all heart attacks.

Spanish drivers surely go bankrupt after a week :) It's common here to toot the horn to greet a friend. And since everyone knows everyone, everyone toots all the time.

Well not everywhere in Spain, but definitely in some places. I lived in a small town where that was the case. Some people used to meet at a small shop just in front of my house and cars would honk all the time just to say hi.

They would then stop the car and actually talk with them, but honking was somehow mandatory

The unintended consequences of this are clearly bad, but is there a less invasive approach? Are horns actually a required security item? If so, how can we prevent overuse?

When I'm cycling, my voice is more useful than a bell (in an urgent situation) - more instantly responsive for me to use, easier for others to locate and interpret, etc.

> Something like $0.10 / second

This is a low enough cost that I bet people would use and hold their horn for longer, to show their annoyance in $.

OK, $0.10 / second growing exponentially at 100% per second or use the Day-fine as someone else proposed

Agreed. I also don’t like it when locking a car via remote causes the horn to go off and in order to make sure people hit it multiple times.

There's someone who does this every day outside my apartment at around 7:15. It is infuriating. 4-5 loud, inconsistently-spaced honks "just to be sure" when I'm sure their car locks silently on the first request. Most modern cars only beep if you lock them twice.

A neighbor used to come home from work late at night and lock their doors three or four times, and every time it would wake me up. I wish there was a silent door lock and it would just flash the headlights.

My car lets me configure it to work that way. It's one of my favorite features. I haven't heard it honk on lock in years.

Most cars have this if you look in the user manual. Even old cars with no graphical radio have konami-code-like sequences of button presses you can input to turn them off.

Maybe no surprise to learn that, for a person who thinks it acceptable for the horn to sound for no real reason, this would be considered far too much effort?

I’m in Australia and I have never seen a car that doesn’t lock this way, you hear a slight mechanical latching sound and the lights flash.

Cars in Europe lock silently.

New cars are starting to replace this with a less intense "beep beep". I was agreeably surprised when I locked my 2020 car and it didn't honk at me.

I turn off the audible alert on lock. Flashing the lights is plenty, why be obnoxious and add noise to the soundscape? I can hear the locks click, anyway.

Is that limited to the US? In Europe I don't see cars do that; usually the lights blink but it doesn't make large sound.

> I just wish we had stronger social norms against unnecessarily using a car

I feel the same way but with the sentence stopping here

Electric cars are starting to get cheaper than ICE cars and that should contribute to making cities quieter in general.

yeah but it won't change how hostile cities are to the people on foot or on bikes, or how much land is destroyed to make way for urban sprawl and other road infrastructure, only a reduction in car use will change that

That's all well and good, but the horn is, at its core, a safety device. What we really need is for law enforcement to start actually enforcing the laws we have on the books against things like loud stereos and mufflers. These are far more disruptive, especially at night when most people are trying to sleep. I'd even go so far as to posit that the link discussed between noise and heart health is actually via psychological stress, rather than physiological stress.

This seems very location specific. Where I grew up (DC suburbs) sound systems and loud engine noise were common and I’d agree with you that was the problem.

Where I live now (Seattle) neither are common but traffic congestion and impatient drivers are. Horns aren’t used for safety, they’re used to communicate crowded aggressive driving.

I agree with GP that for this scenario restricting cars overall is a better solution. The laws on the books certainly apply but they’re only enforceable in a meaningful way if you have traffic cops on every arterial. And that’s not something I think anyone wants.

> I'd even go so far as to posit that the link discussed between noise and heart health is actually via psychological stress, rather than physiological stress.

Why is this even a distinction? The psychological stress leads to the physiological stress impact on heart health.

A simple solution would be to require car companies to make the horn as loud inside the vehicle as it is outside.

However, general motor traffic noise - tyres, engines, displaced air - is loud enough to be a serious problem anyway.

I don't know how we solve this. Car dependency is so ingrained in our collective consciousness; is it politically feasible to find a way out?


Noise cameras. Just like a speed camera, but it measures noise levels and issues a ticket in the mail. There's unfortunately a regressive element (some people can't afford to fix their noisy exhaust), but I see no reason not to issue tickets for noise outside of normal hours, e.g. 7am-10pm.

I'd guess that most people working "outside of normal hours" are doing it by necessity doing some kind of low wage job, and therefore poorer. e.g. anyone who works in restaurants or bars or music or nightlife after 10pm, taxi drivers, pizza delivery, Uber drivers, 24/7 gas station and supermarket employees, security guards, delivery truck drivers, garbage collectors, train drivers, etc.

I wonder if ear plugs help at all. My partner snores so I wear them at night.

Even then, sometimes I get woken up by the low frequencies of large trucks idling (snow removal operations, mostly). The vibrations are not even felt in my ears but through my entire body.

When earplugs fail (as in the case of neighbor's bass, partner's snoring, or rambunctious nocturnal pets), I highly recommend the Bose SleepBuds II. Best purchase of the year for me, and my sleep tracking apps have proven to me that these things work. Might be worth looking into.

This is amazing. I am surprised I never noticed this product before. I even tried to sleep with my Bose headset (this was unsuccessful as it's hard to sleep with those on.)

Have you tried it? Do you consider it would block the loud snoring of a large man?

The website says it's not active noise canceling but noise masking. My ear plugs are masking 38dB and the snoring makes it through. So I am worried that I would end up hearing heavy snoring with a musical background.

This is my issue too. Earplugs don't help for idling trucks, or subwoofers. Nothing I've found does.

I strongly empathize. I usually wait a few seconds, then just flash my high beams for most situations.

I've been suffering from tinnitus and hyperacusis for over three years. It led me to read a bit about hearing in general, and more and more studies show that most of the hearing loss we experience as we grow old is nothing natural but the result of the years of abuse we inflict upon our ears in our everyday lives ( https://www.jneurosci.org/content/40/33/6357 ). Even though my situation is specific, this article does not surprise me at all. I believe it has also been proven that loud noise reduces brain activity levels and cognitive performance.

I wasn't a fan of loud noises before my hyperacusis appeared, but now I've grown to absolutely despise motorcycle drivers who seem to feel obligated to make as much noise as possible in dense areas, accelerating as strong as they can regardless of common sense and speed limits. I won't even mention those doing this late at night throughout the city, not worried about waking up hundreds if not thousands of people.

I've moved out of a big city to be less exposed to traffic noise, unfortunately the area I'm now in is coastal and often has said drivers "enjoying" the coastline in their own unique way as soon as the sun is out.

I hope that this major public health issue will be tackled in the upcoming years, and that strong limitations on engine noise will be put in place, enforced by sound radars, heavy fines, and incentives to go electric.

Some European countries like Austria have been doing this for many years. Roadside noise level measurements with harsh penalties. If you exceed the limits, they take the licence plate off.

Lucky them, here in France we're probably far from ever seeing such laws given the high percentage of bikers who simply don't care about making harmful levels of noise even right next to small kids.

I've considered reaching out to my neighborhood council about it, but I'll probably have moved again due to motorcycles before it goes up to the city/county/department/region...

Well, there actually are laws in France regarding noise. I don't remember what the numbers are, but technically most of the loud pipes on motorcycles are illegal. The registration has a line for the noise generated by the bike under certain conditions, and if you modify the bike (usually the muffler) such that the noise is above that level, your bike is illegal.

The issue, of course, is that there's no enforcement.

Maybe a year or so ago there was some campaign about this with police stopping people in Paris who were too loud. Everyone was talking about how the noise is unacceptable and how there would be a crackdown. This lasted a whole 2 days until the cameras tired, and all of a sudden it became acceptable again, and has been ever since.

Interesting, I had a look and it seems like it should be limited to 80dB for the biggest motorcycles. But that's when measuring in specific conditions in a lab, so there's a more "practical" (ahem) limit that depends on the model but is always at harmful levels (>80dB) and is measured when the engine is only at 50% of its maximum power.

So we have a badly designed law which is, as you mentioned, not even enforced. Sounds like France indeed.

I've looked a bit into it, and it's actually not that bad. [0] is a French source (not government affiliated).

Basically, as you said, there's the "official" test, which is dynamic (the bike has to be moving) and involved enough to not be practical for everyday controls by police.

But there's also a "static" test, for the purpose of facilitating police controls. The meat of it, from the article, is below. The parameters for this test are given on the registration slip of the vehicle (expected sound level / RPM).


The sound should be measured with a microphone placed as follows:

* At an angle of 45º to the vehicle's longitudinal axis

* At 50 cm from the muffler

* At the height of the highest point of the muffler and at least at 20 cm from the ground

* If the bike has mufflers on both sides, testing should be done with two microphones, one on each side

Testing conditions:

* Testing must be done at 50% of the nominal power RPM [not max RPM]

* If max RPM is 5000 or less, testing must be done at 75 % of nominal power RPM

* There must be at least 3m of free space around all sides of the vehicle


This level is higher than the one in the official test, but it doesn't really mean anything. The official test is done wide open throttle starting at 50 km/h, so it should reflect fairly well the actual noise produced when riding around town. The static test isn't involved in the homologation of the vehicle, it's just there for the police to be able to check that the vehicle hasn't been tampered with.

[0] https://ffmc.asso.fr/bruit-des-motos-comment-le-mesure

Thanks for clarifying. Given the considerable amount of motorcycles that are way too loud, it still feels like the noise limits for homologation are way too high. Or if that many bikes have been tampered with, it means there really is absolutely no enforcement whatsoever. Either way it sucks :/

I would have thought French have a more strict approach given how they throttle performance of bikes. Like a hayabusha with 100 HP. I think a while back max. performance was 100HP for bikes.

Well, as always, there's the theory, and then there's the practice.

The 100 HP law has been removed around 2016 because the EU said it was it against free trade in the block. I'm not really sure how that works and if a vehicle must only comply with EU regulations in order to be sold in any and every country. As a biker, I'm happy it was removed. It was just silly and useless. A 100 HP bike, even a heavy one like a Hayabusa is powerful enough to give you a bad day if you have no idea what you're doing [0].

More related to the issue at hand, limiting was very easy to circumvent and practically impossible to verify without putting the bike on a dyno. Older, non fuel injected models only had some kind of mechanical limiting for admission. My bike was limited by the ECU which is trivial to swap. Actually in my particular case it's a bit more involved since the coded key is tied to the ECU, so you'd have to also change the key. The ECU is just a black box with a bunch of connectors. It doesn't say anything as to what it does.

It's more or less the same issue with mufflers. They're pretty trivial to change and even if they're sold as street legal, it's very easy to remove a capsule to "open" it up.

However, this is much easier to control than the ECU mapping. Just put out a mic and measure the sound level. Is it above the value in the registration? It's illegal. Done.

But I think it's just much easier to enforce speed limits. Just set up a speed camera and take pictures of the guys passing by. You don't even have to stop them. And, as a bonus, it counts as "doing something" for traffic safety.


[0] One good thing in France (and maybe the whole EU, now) is that getting a motorcycle license is not as easy as the car license. But in traffic stats, motorcycles are usually counted in the category of "2 wheelers" (which actually includes some trikes). The issue here is that not everyone has an actual motorcycle license. And, related to the power issue, it would seem that "inappropriate speed" was a factor in more accidents involving small bikes (those not requiring the full motorcycle license) than bigger ones. Below is a (2008) study showing that:

* "small bikers" are more often the cause of the accident than "big" ones.

* big bikes, when the cause of the accident was a "loss of control", were on average going 15 km/h above the posted speed limit. Pretty much any 100 HP motorcycle can go above 145 km/h (highway speed limit is 130).


I lived in Austria for half a year and never saw this being enforced. In fact, I was awoken daily by 2-cycle dirt bikes echoing through the streets. Austrians never seemed the type to follow laws all that well and I doubt they're enforced as much as you think they are. There's a general disdain for anything authoritarian there (for good reason).

OMFG Los Angeles neeeeeds this. 'Course we need the more stringent European licensing requirements too, but....I can make do without that.

Ive been wondering about my hearing issues lately, too. I have occasional "bursts" of tinnitus, i assume from my hypertension, but ive also been looking for answers regarding a weirder phenomenon ive started noticing in recent years. Hyperacusis seems to be the closest word for it, but for me it manifests as isolated spurious noises seeming louder than they are. It sounds like someone turned up the gain on my ears for a split second before the sound occured, and then right after, returned it to its normal volume envelope. Its startling and unsettling, but i dont have the "conversational voices are too loud" type of symptom. Anything similar for you?

If by bursts of tinnitus you mean a high pitched noise for a few seconds (sometimes longer), these are rather normal and very common, not much to worry about I believe.

Is the sensitivity you describe specific to certain sounds? If so, that could be some kind of hyperacusis as it can be very focused on certain frequencies. Mine is mild/moderate so I can tolerate a loud discussion for a while, but stuff like broken glass is simply unbearable, it feels like the glass is breaking inside my ears and usually makes them painful for a couple of hours.

Just a PSA. I thought I had tinnitus a while back because that’s the first search engine hit on “ringing in ears”, but it turns out it was just ear wax touching my eardrum. If it happens to anyone else, it may be easy to fix.

Yep just get your ears properly checked by a good ENT when it first appears. There can be numerous causes and some of them can and should be treated early. Also do not panic, in many cases it will go away.

In some other cases like mine it's unfortunately not as likely to disappear, so protect your ears and wear earplugs at concerts or anywhere noise is at uncomfortable levels.

> hyperacusis

TIL. Thanks.

I used to live in a flat with a window onto the main road and I would violently wake up 4-6x every night and my heart rate would be through the roof. It's not easy to go back to sleep after that. I can get used to consistent noise and filter it out, but I can never get used to an extremely loud noise coming rapidly out of dead silence. Those were mostly custom exhausts, motorcycles and sirens.

If I really needed sleep I would get myself drunk for a week straight, that was the only time I slept through the night. But the chronic lack of sleep and sleep disturbance made me generally angry and quick to explode at every little thing. I was really miserable for years. Luckily I saved enough money to move to a quiet cul de sac.

I honestly can't wait for electric cars to come en mass, even if it costs the environment the same or more than ICE, because you can't complain about noise pollution in a way that someone would take you seriously. Everyone just waves their hand "it's just a loud car passing by", but they don't see the negative consequences that has for both mental and physical health.

I'm sorry you went through that awful situation but... was there anything stopping you from wearing earplugs?

I religiously wear the best earplugs and face mask I can find to sleep. Even in controlled environments, they make a hell of a difference.

I considered using earplugs, but I researched it online and I learned that using them regularly can cause health problems related to your ears. They are meant to be used on occasion not for a prolonged periods of time, so I abandoned the idea.

I also tried white noise generators, but those were only effective against neighbours and not outside traffic. In the end, knocking myself out with a bottle of wine was the only thing that worked. That's not something I would do regularly, but once every few months when the lack of sleep would start to affect me badly in every possible way.

After I moved to a quiet place, my life improved tenfold in a space of few weeks. The only thing that stayed with me is an elevated sensitivity to noise (a kind of trauma but instead of being afraid I get mad at the noise origin).

When I lived on a similar main road, I ended up with some form of noise turned up as loud as possible (to attempt to mute sirens), and I wore ear plugs to minimise that, and I still occasionally got woken up by the vibration of a large or loud vehicle passing by.

What are the best earplugs in your opinion?

I haven't found anything better than classic foam earplugs - 3M, Mack's, any good brand will be a safe choice. The biggest difference comes from using proper technique to insert them.

Mask-wise I really like the Tempur-pedic sleep mask. I dislike their mattresses intensely but the mask is really good, especially for airplane sleeping.

How would you hear your fire alarm?

I don't think I've ever had one :)

A bit unrelated, but I'd love to use a Zillow-like platform but filtering homes for noise pollution, light pollution, air pollution. (Also climate and flooding.)

Most people wouldn't use it, because they've basically decided which city/town (bc of work/family) and are just trying to narrow down which home. But it'd be very useful to me, personally, as someone who can do my job from anywhere. Also, I'd imagine it's impossible to get detailed enough data for some of this stuff. Noise being the toughest, I'd bet, though maybe you could approximate based on various factors (traffic, etc).

I've thought about how one would design and market soundproofed apartments and houses. You'd need to condense full-spectrum measurements of ambient levels, indoor transmission, and outdoor transmission into just one or a few numbers or letter grades, and convince other apartment buildings and homebuilders to let you run measuring microphones and speakers for a week.

Are there any standards for soundproofed construction like there are for energy-minimized construction?

If you've ever been inside a house that has insulation installed in all interior walls, the sound mitigation is really something else. That's a feature quite high on my list, if I ever construct a home.

Cool! Though unfortunately it only goes down to 125Hz or so, so it won't cover water hammer pipe noise, flushing toilets, or footsteps on higher floors.

> The STC is useful for evaluating annoyance due to speech sounds, but not music or machinery noise as these sources contain more low frequency energy than speech.

There's also Room Criteria or Noise Criteria, which measures ambient noise from 16Hz to 4kHz, but not transmission.

My dream is to have greater than 60dB of isolation across 20-20k, and preferably more like 80+. I'd like to be able to sleep inside if there's a marching band, a motorcycle tour, an airshow, and a hurricane all going on outside at the same time (and, in reverse, to be able to do all those things inside without bothering the neighbors).

STC rating, or as you point out maybe a more expansive take on noise attenuation, is going to be high on my requirements list next time I look at an apartment. I think that and general sanitation (i.e lack of rats, roaches, bedbugs, mold) are the things that have the most acute effect on livability. And not having to walk on tiptoes is nice too. Unfortunately new construction is all about making a building cheaply, but soundproofing is almost impossible to do after the fact unless you want to gut a place.

I'm not sure how soundproof it needs to be but my Marine Corps barracks never had sounds come through the ceilings or walls. Concrete.

As someone who pretty much fits the category of " basically decided which city/town (bc of work/family) and are just trying to narrow down which home", I would love to have this service. There are huge differences in noise levels throughout any given city, and it's not always obvious from just a satellite map. Unfortunately, it's a very hard problem to solve. I did a lot of research before renting my current house. I thought I had done pretty well for about 2 hours after I moved in, then I found out that my next-door neighbor has two little dogs with a high-pitched bark and Olympic-swimmer level lungs. The neighbor has absolutely no interest in trying to control them. It would be a hell of an app that could have warned me about that.

We’ve started working on some functionality like you are describing - to show noise levels for a given real estate location. If you have a sec, I’d love any constructive feedback. (The demo is just U.S. locations for now but the service is global)”. And then add the link: https://tether-data.com/noise-report/

Realtor.com and the Realtor app have noise level and flood risk maps.

They need to be able to use it as an actual filter when searching. That's not there yet. And... I'm unsure how accurate it is - maybe better for some areas - but I've seen some "low noise" areas that are... pretty noisy, imo.

I wish you could filter by what other people have searched for.

I want to look at the neihborhoods that all the people who don't give a crap about anything are clicking on.

Listening to jake brakes and a train a few times a day is a lot bad for my health than easily irritated neighbors.

air pollution is highly localized, e.g. near (downwind from) freeways. Not enough people have purpleair sensors to make this a reality.

You could have a mixture of exact scores like for whole cities < https://aqicn.org/map/usa/ > and then combine that with localized scores based on things like being near a freeway.

Walk Score isn't an exact science, but is still a useful measure.

The main problem seems to be stress; with loud noises comes stress, which is a chronic killer. There's also the correlation between loud noise and air pollution, loud noise and sleep disruption, vibrations, disruptions to daily habits, inconvenience of construction and transit, etc.

Personal story, there were workers using an extremely loud diesel powered crane to redo the facade of our building. They without fail began work at 705, outside of a building of 100 mostly young people, dozens of whom were still in bed. Why do construction crews schedules, 3 people, get precedence over the dozens of residents? My personal stress and anger was peaked every time that crane turned on, I wanted to shout at the workers by the end.

The coup de grace was the turning on of the crane at 630 on Saturday morning, someone had bribed them to lift their own personal AC unit on top of the building. Bathrobed me went out and told them a few words. They responded they wanted to get it done early so it wouldn't bother people. WTF!

I think it’s unfortunate that society has become pacified to a point that people generally will not use e.g. minor equipment sabotage to deal with nuisances like this that otherwise take excessive bureaucratic nonsense to combat.

With cameras everywhere and such a litigious society? The stress is probably less impactful in the short run compared to after they get fucked over by a lawsuit and/or criminal charge.

you have to fight an asshole like an asshole - few people are able to pull this off. most people prefer to suffer and pretend to themselves to be "tolerant" instead of just standing up for themselves.

Then you just end up with a world full of assholes. Not sure that's "winning".

I was half waiting for this response. I don't think so. There is a difference between being an asshole who abuses and harasses other people and being a person who is respectful but able to improvise guerilla tactics when it comes to dealing with such people. There IS a difference between using violence for offense and for defense.

You have to realize that no law, no police will protect you against people who have no consideration for their fellow citizens. There is only suffering, fleeing or fighting back - that's it. Make your choice.

I live near a highway in Colorado which is very quiet except for summer weekends when the noisy motorbikes turn up and it becomes borderline intolerable (I’m not against motorbikes, I ride, I just hate the lack of consideration for others piece and quiet).

On a thread about air pollution a few days ago [1] I mentioned sensor.community [2]. They are promoting crowdsourced environmental data, including noise and I’m currently building their DNMS so I can contribute [3].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25915103 [2] https://sensor.community/en/ [3] https://sensor.community/en/sensors/dnms/

Some unicode issues on that site "⚠️"

Folks with sensitivity to sound: consider supplementing chelated magnesium.

When I tried magnesium glycinate to help with sleep, I happily discovered my daytime sensitivity to loud sounds improved too. Turns out this is common: https://psychcentral.com/blog/living-with-extreme-sound-sens...

  > In my practice, 85 percent of my patients came to me with a severe magnesium deficiency. A deficiency in this mineral often leads to anxiety, mood swings, personality disorders, sound sensitivity, light sensitivity, and insomnia. Magnesium has been shown to mitigate the neurotransmitter glutamate while easing the anxiety and anger experienced by someone with most types of sound sensitivity. Chelated magnesium is one of the best types of mineral supplements as it is very small and easy for the body to absorb and make use of.
Mg deficiency is widespread in industrialized populations, due in part to nutrient depleted soils. It’s heavily implicated in medical literature for anxiety, irritability, insomnia. The link to noise sensitivity seems more anecdotal so far.

Why chelates specifically? As opposed to, say, magnesium citrate.

I often hear that Chelated magnesium has the highest bio-availability of all the different types of magnesium supplements. One might think they can just take more magnesium citrate to compensate but then it might be a full on laxative at that point.

The Atlantic also wrote "Why is the World so Loud?" in 2019, a great read into the psychological effects of noise pollution and the legal means by which people try and fight back.


I’m guessing the Atlantic office is not a quiet place

Discussed at the time:

Everything Is Getting Louder - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21229540 - Oct 2019 (305 comments)

I see the top few comments talking about motorcycles, leaf blowers, and automobiles.

My pet peeve are jets. Living within ~5 miles of an air force base, or any major airport, is terrible. Everyone stops what they're doing for the for whatever duration a plane is in the area. Local and state politicians are powerless to do anything because of "the jobs".

That's a good one. Mine is helicopters. Military Blackhawks and a Sikorsky known as Marine-1 at times, to be specific.

I live on the flight path from the White House to Camp David and they practice this flight multiple times per week. It makes sense because they need a full roster of people so they can provide minimum 2-deep 24 hour coverage and the folks need to be able to do it in their sleep in any weather conditions.

It's still jarring to hear a trio of Blackhawks fly past me at a relatively low altitude.

imagine adding flying cars to the mix! it'd be hard to escape.

I spent a year living in a house on a load road and it was awful. The worst part was the inconsistency. Every ten minutes or so a really load motorcycle or truck would drive by and shake the entire house. It was a constant distraction and it would wake me up several times a night. I left as soon as my lease up. I could see this environment taking years off your life if you in it for many years. In addition to the noise, diesel fumes would waft into my room if left the window open on a hot day. I will never live on a load road ever again, no matter how “nice” the pace is.

A reminder that noise cancel headphones are amazing. If you’re solo in the summer ypu can just watch tv with the headphones, the NC is really good a5 canceling the rumble from traffic, works great in trains too.

Talking about a sony headphones above 300 eur though... but as someone healing trauma, it’s a life changer. Its not just less nouse, it gives you a bubble, an island of safety. You can get an hour of quiet before bed...

Personally I use ear plugs (silicone). If I want to listen to music or watch a movie I have AfterShokz bone-conducting headphones. You can get both for a bit over $100 and they work better than noise-cancelling headphones.

> Talking about a sony headphones above 300 eur though...

Agree. Living in an appartment with inconsiderate neighbors, my Sony noise cancelling headphones are a lifesaver. (the bluetooth sucks btw, I mostly use them via minijack).

I live near a busy road, close to an intersection with a stoplight, and have my desk at a window that faces said road. The constant slowing a revving of traffic around the light is very distracting and I run an air purifier on high throughout the day to stabilize the noise and drown out the shifting traffic noises. I have also shifted my desk so that it does not overlook the road and thus I don't have to watch individuals sitting at the light all day. These two adjustments have made a positive impact on my focus when I'm working.

While I am excited for EVs to become more mainstream, I'm afraid for roads such as mine where the speed limit is 40 and people often drive 50+ that the quiet engine won't make much of a difference given the speed and that the sound of tires on the road and wind rushing around the vehicle are still somewhat loud in their own right. It makes me want to move to a more rural environment where the loudest noise is the refrigerator.

With more EVs the local pollution is going go down a lot. Probably also something that you'd notice more you could do a quick A/B test.

Not sure about the long run development, though. There are people who install mp3-players attached to powerful speakers which are synchronized with the gas paddle. Those are insanely loud and sometimes sound more like perverted space ships. Meaning - for many idiots a loud car or motorcycle never was about enjoying the mechanics to begin with.

Hey, here is a startup idea.

I've been sitting on for a while and given my lack of engineering experience will probably never work on.


Unnecessary/excessive noise from outdated/not properly maintained or purposefully broken devices (e.g. combustion engine powered leaf blowers, excessive and outdated reverse gear warning sounds on large vehicles, hollow motorbike ~mufflers~, garbage bins with metal wheels/lids)


Create noise pollution maps, showing the areas with most frequent/most excessive noise pollution.

Noise data will exercise economical and political pressure putting an actual market price on the noise levels and requiring the governments to enforce noise limits on vehicles and other registered devices.

Approach 1:

Mobile apps capturing and mapping noise levels in a privacy friendly way, while providing useful diagnostics and recommendations for the users.

Approach 2:

Low power GPS-enabled devices distributed across the city contributing real-time noise data to a central database system for evaluation.

The big trouble you'll have is incentives. Who has an incentive to put them up in a noisy place?

Damaging the heart sounds right.

My neighbor has a unique obsession with his leaf-blower. It's like his daily 30-120 minutes of exercise at random times of the day. Even with all the noise-cancelling technology in the world, it ruins me for at least 2-3 hours and makes both video-conferencing and deep work basically impossible.

Here's the thing: Nobody cares. The neighbor can say no to polite requests to figure out a compromise, and your local officials will tell you that you have the right to make as much noise as you want, and nobody else can do anything about it.

Noise ordinances restrict decibels, not the tones or revving patterns or high-pitch "safety" beeping or other things that cut right through the heart despite them not technically being over a decibel level for a sustained period of time.

With more people doing deeper work from home, I hope there are some pioneering cities that can establish protocols that protect work environments and locals' sanity - while still allowing noisy work to get done at predictable times of the day and with reasonable limits on meaningful impact to those living within earshot.

Like TFA, we have to paint noise more like the health problem it actually is.

Most of my neighbors hire leaf blower toting professional landscaping crews to clear their lawns on a regular basis. The process takes maybe 10 minutes for weekly blowouts, and maybe 45-60 minutes for seasonal jobs.

I thought this was obnoxious, until one of my neighbors decided to do the work themselves. It took them an entire long weekend of (what seemed like) 9-5 blowing to clear their lot.

Similar - couple of neighbors of mine enjoy the leaf blowing and riding mowers. I mean... it's not speculation, one said "oh, i love it - it's my relaxation time". And... when he can, he'll spend 2-3 hrs putzing around riding and blowing whatever he can. We have the same size yard, and have a company which is paid by the job. They can do the whole same size in about under 30 minutes (often just with 1 person - 2 folks it's often 20 minutes).

There's little we can do when someone gets pleasure out of running a loud motor for hours at a time. He started a leaf blower, then left it running next to our window while he went inside for about 10 minutes (bathroom visit probably?). Just... insanity.

leaf blowers are such a pox on neighborhoods.

we really need to find an alternative. is it possible to make an electric leaf blower that is both powerful and quiet?

or forget the leaf blower altogether and pay kids to rake up leaves instead. make it the new paper route. $N per bag.

I have an electric leaf blower and it's loud as hell. I think most of the noise comes from the high velocity air itself.

Indeed. Are leaf blowers that much more efficient than good old fashioned rakes?

Especially if you pay some kids to do it? They get exercise and money out of it. We get some peace and quiet.

Many people seem to take genuine pleasure in using the blower, maybe like the satisfaction of vacuuming a dirty carpet.

The difference is acknowledging and caring about the externalities paid by anyone in earshot. Sure, do your noisy cathartic thing occasionally when you really need it, but find a better hobby to do every day of the week.

People seem to insist on burning fossil fuels for any tiny unnecessary task it seems. It's so sad.

Yes, some cities actually ban non-electric leaf blowers. It’s possible to make them powerful and quiet or powerful and loud. It’s just a matter of cost and will. It probably doesn’t cost much more but no one has cared to do it.

I’d really like some more convincing, actually — do you know this to be true, or does it sound like something we ought to be able to do in 2021?

A partial solution would be soundproof houses, though that doesn't rescue one's backyard or park from loud neighbors. Every house or apartment should have at least a room or two that are impervious to outdoor noise.

At the same time, there are really good reasons to make noise sometimes, from music to machines, so better ways to do that without overly bothering others are needed too.

This, at least in America, is the real heart of the problem. Our building practices have leaned so cheap for so long on thin margins, that walls, even exterior, are paper thin to the point of being ridiculous.

This becomes much more obvious if you have travelled around to other countries, and it's not all about wealth. Yes, rich ones such as Switzerland are a great example because of the heat containment requirements they have, there are poorer countries that still know how to build a house without sound going through it as if it was nothing.

This doesn't mean noise pollution shouldn't be tackled itself, but cities are noisey, and people at least deserve to have domiciles that give them a refuge.

This means you need to start participating in your city and county governments if you really want change (like many things!)

I've spent serious time looking into this. One of the biggest sources of noise is windows or other places air can start to get in. I re-sealed my windows as best I could, but it's still a crisis of sound. Windows that claim to be sound-isolating either don't open at all or are very expensive to buy or properly install.

But: These are the kinds of "nobody cares it's your fault it bugs you and you need to find a solution" comments that are pervasive. Sure, I need to do my part as someone who's bothered by the sound, but there is no real incentive for the producer of the noise to cut it out.

Not singling you out in particular, just showing that even honest proposals for solutions tend to miss the elephant in the room: noise pollution that isn't pure sustained decibels can still be damaging.

Say I have an obnoxious horn that is a few db below the ordinance/limit. Many may claim that's a nuisance although somehow the blower isn't. But why shouldn't I get to play with my horn for a few hours every day? Maybe my leaves don't like it. The fact that the leaf-blower sound comes from doing a "chore" seems to change the equation in ways that are hard to articulate.

These are the kinds of "nobody cares it's your fault it bugs you and you need to find a solution" comments that are pervasive.

If I came across that way it wasn't intentional. I actually really, really hate unwelcome sound/noise, but I'm also a night owl so I can't really enjoy many of the things I want to enjoy because it would bother others.

Realistically we all make noise in ways we might not initially realize, so on top of singling out and improving the outliers like car horns and yard equipment, we also have to consider ways to let us all go about our business more quietly, and to find solace from noise.

The first thing I do in any car is plug in my OBDLink LX, fire up Carista on my phone, and see what obnoxious beeps, honks, and flashes I can disable: https://cdn.dealereprocess.net/cdn/servicemanuals/toyota/201...

Are these gas powered blower? I wonder if electric ones exist. If not maybe there's a better design for small homes / lawn.

Electric blowers exist. I have one. But his property is just big enough and with enough bushes and things where a cord would probably quickly become a nuisance. Hopefully the Tesla Lawn Care line is imminent.

Looking forward to those electric blowers

They do exist and seem to work reasonably well, from the few I've seen used around my neighborhoods.

Get your neighbor a powerful, quiet, electric leaf blower for Christmas? If he's leaf-blower-obsessed, he might even love you for it.

The electric ones aren't noiseless, but they are a far sight better.

Have you talked to your neighbor? It could be as simple as a lack of awareness on their part.

The problem with annoying neighbours is that they lack the common decency to comply. By definition, if they had the required decency then they wouldn't become annoying in the first place.

The general advice always seems to be to talk to your neighbour about the problem but, in my experience, this never works and is more likely to aggravate an already testy relationship.

Thus far, until 'being annoying' becomes an acceptable defence for murder, the only strategy that works 100% is to move.

Repeatedly. It's a weird power dynamic that neighbors have. He's not a rude person, but he just doesn't "get it." I asked him to run his blower any time except 9-12 and 1-5, but that worked for like 2 days.

It almost never is. You are a nice person to assume the best though.

> high-pitch "safety" beeping

This drives me insane. I know some shithead lawyer or safety “activist” somewhere is responsible for all the bullshit beeping I have to deal with in my life. A fire alarm going off for no reason. (I would accept the negligible marginal risk of burning to death than have to deal with legally mandated fire alarms.) My car beeping because I didn’t put the seatbelt over the luggage in the passenger seat. Even airplanes aren’t as annoying with the audible alerts as cars. The only time I get beeped at when I’m flying is if I’m stalling or something. At least in aircraft, designers have the understanding and latitude to treat noises as the pointless distractions they are.

"I was in a school science lesson learning about Pavlov and thinking 'stupid dogs'. Then the bell rang and we all had lunch." - Gary Delaney.

> "I know some shithead lawyer or safety “activist” somewhere is responsible for all the bullshit beeping I have to deal with in my life."

Probably not; whoever set the Unix/Linux CLI to ding aggressively whenever you do literally anything is guilty of something or other. It's not just the nature of the beep sound, 8-bit music can be fun, it's combined with the nature of "safety" beeping being an audio wrap-on-the-knuckles for doing something "wrong" like ... pressing backspace when there's nothing to backspace DING! or turning on the induction hob DING! or turning up the power on the induction hob DING! or not hurrying quickly enough to the finished microwave DING DING! or reversing a large vehicle BEEEEEEP! or not plugging in your seatbelt NAUGHTY! (Not being awake for capitalism productivity time RING RING!)

They're not just audio noises, they're psychological soup nazis. Cracking twigs and sudden barks are sounds that somehting is coming to eat you, screeching is a sound that your infant might be about to die, none of it is relevant to trying to adjust a volume control one percent higher than it can go. DING!

I've run Windows with all sounds off, and Linuxes with muted error bels for so long that I can't imagine what it would be like if the entire computing audioscape was nice, encouraging, pleasant, positive feedback like message notifications on smartphones tend to be.

I lived in Dublin, Ireland, for a while and every. Single. Day. There was a fire alarm going off. It drove me insane. I had already forgotten how crazy that was and your message made me remember it. Now I can appreciate more not having that where I currently live :)

We’ve started working on some functionality like you are describing - to show noise levels for a given real estate location. If you have a sec, I’d love any constructive feedback. (The demo is just U.S. locations for now but the service is global)”. And then add the link: https://tether-data.com/noise-report/

I've had noise issues from apartments in cities for decades, a mix of being easily bothered by music and noise from other people, and people loving to play loud music at home. Most of my friends seem a lot less bothered, to the point that they can mostly ignore it.

Not sure if it's cultural, due to individual environmental conditions growing up, or biological. I'm starting to wonder if it's biological because I'm also a light sleeper.

Noise cancelling headphones are a godsend. Someone needs to design ones that can be comfortably worn while sleeping, though!

This makes me wonder about 'white noise'? I finally caved and bought a non looping white noise machine after years of being woken up by car engines, ambulances, god forsaken LEAF BLOWERS cranking up at 7am every morning. Now, I notice I often sleep until my alarm.

I would think that constant white noise would have a positive, or at least no negative impact but I have no evidence, and googling only pulls up intermittent noise studies.

This is bringing several interesting questions to my mind.

I wonder if the quality of noise has any bearing. For example, if you listen to pleasant music all day at work in an open plan office, does it have the same negative health effects as if it was road noise?

Do the deaf suffer the same effects of being exposed to noise? As in, is it a physiological effect of being near something loud or does your brain have to process the sound?

Here's some anecdotal evidence from my experience:

I've lived close to a loud 4 lane road for 4 years. My windows were bad too. When trucks drove over a bump in the road, I sometimes was able to notice the vibrations.

Given this radical experience and all the pain caused by sleep-deprevation and having to move away finally, I second the article's message whole-heartedly (lol).

Though I was luckily to be able to move, I've stayed sensitive to noise. It's a major stressor in my life and I take it seriously.

In fact, I think that particularly in cities, the German aurhorities should implement tighter rules when it comes to noise pollution, e.g.:

- tone down ambulance's horns or fund technical approaches that work without the high pitch sound

- stop building airports near neighborhoods and restrict air traffic heavily

- enforce stricter rules when honking for stupid reasons

- have cars comply to noise maximums

I live just uphill of a minor state highway intersection that's near several industrial sites. I hear jake brakes going down the hill end engines going up the hill. And there's hourly-ish trains on the overlooking hill, one of the industrial sites sometimes smells a little. One of my neighbors parties. Another one has dogs that bark at everything. Yet a third has all manner of 2-stroke powered toys.

I have never been more stress free because the kind of people who live here aren't the kind of people who care what I do. Sure it would be great if I lived on a bunch of acres in the country but putting up with some noise is a pretty good middle ground.

Fair enough. Actually, in the place I lived I could be as loud as I wanted too.

Contrarywise, get up early before dawn and listen to the birds sing in the day. It can give you a wonderful sense of peace and fulfillment.

I don't have any scientific basis for it, but I suspect birdsong is important somehow. Almost like it's a kind of nutrient.

Those who are living in the noisy environments, have you tried the recent noise cancelling earphones/headphones? Do you prefer noise cancelling or adding white noise over long period of use?

Also I'm looking for noise cancellation algorithms which can add noise cancellation to any generic TWS earphones by processing through smartphone[1]. Google has added audio amplification for any TWS earphones through android as an accessibility feature, but not the noise cancellation; Is it because the latency matters for the latter more?

[1]I've added the link to it on my profile.

Noise cancelling, in order to work really well, requires extremely fast processing and microphones that are directly on the ears. And then you need earphones with very well-defined frequency characteristics - which would make any approach with generic earphones very difficult. And not only that, the exact distance between earphones and ear matters a lot - that's why high-end ANC headphones like the Sony ones include a calibration routine.

Noise cancelling doesn't do much for impact noises which seem to annoy people more.

There's construction going on here, and has been for the past few months. That 7am powerup of the jackhammers definitely triggers a primitive, visceral reaction.

It's really more about signal-to-noise ratio I'd say, if there are often loud noises then your brain will have to attend to them, if there is constantly a fan noise, for example, then your brain will actually focus since there is no signal--but I've definitely found it's best to get rid of both in almost all domains.

I lived in NY for 3 months and the amount of noise pollution there was insane. The one that I really couldn't believe was the J train on Brooklyn's Broadway. You could be yelling at someone 3ft/1m apart and they couldn't hear you because of the train noise.

I wonder if New Yorkers realise how absolutely crazy that is.

As someone who lives in NY for 10 years, I don't know how I wasn't so aware before but I've lately become acutely conscious of how we are surrounded by near constant extreme noise pollution levels. Maybe most people just exist in this the way I used to, not thinking about it, it's so normalised that people can't imagine how it could be any different.

The worst to me is that people have internalised this so far that they don't see any problem in contributing to this pollution themselves. Just a few weeks ago, someone on my block wanted to move their car at 4 am on like a Wednesday for whatever reason. Unfortunately for this person, someone else had double parked next to their car overnight (a chronically common issue in Brooklyn where I live for some reason). This neighbour somehow thought it would be perfectly reasonable to start honking constantly to alert the person who should move their car to let them out. At 4 am. When they would obviously be waking up many other people nearby that had nothing to do with the issue. In my 10 years here, that level of inconsideration was still pretty shocking to me.

I lived in NY for about 4 years, and I'm still amazed by the similar things I saw. For example, one day my upstairs neighbour didn't feel like pulling up the drive way, so she just parked her car in the middle of our cramped, busy one way street so she could run upstairs and grab some things.

Of course all the people stuck trying to drive down the street started honking and yelling. She got back to the car, yelled back at them and drove off.

I wouldn't consider doing something like that in a million years, but for native New Yorkers, it's par for the course.

Low frequency, wall penetrating, non-stop, droning noises like heat pumps (becoming pervasive with the green energy bandwagon) and a/c compressors are even worse than intermittent noise like planes or vehicles. They go all night and drive me crazy ruining my sleep and health.

I'd like to see an actual legitimate source of research regarding this. I can understand how some people are sensitive to the disruption of noises and how that can induce stress to those individuals, but the connection between noise and heart damage seems indirectly related.

With the new apple watches and iphones it should be possible to get a widespread map of noise pollution even finer grained than EPA monitors.

True. Noise gets logged in the health app from the apple watch, so a research study could tap into that quite easily. They already do that for heart rate and other metrics.

Does anyone know what decibel thresholds are? I’ve been falling asleep with podcasts played quietly. It isn’t loud at all and feels comforting, but obviously is louder than no podcast. I’m wondering if that would be enough to trigger some of the hormonal cascade they discuss.

I can hardly wait to bring this up with the local LA Fitness manager. Gyms seem to be a Petri dish for bad experimental music which, to my ears, is noise.

There are few things that make me angrier than when a Harley-Davidson style motorcycle (or a pack of them) drive past me while I’m walking down the street. I can’t believe cities haven’t prohibited them, especially at night. Those things are specifically designed to create noise pollution. They’re so fucking obnoxious, even just thinking about it while I’m writing this is working me up.

Yes, it's frustrating that some people just don't believe in the human right to peace and quiet.

That's one reason why I have no hope for self-organizing models of society. There are griefers who only respond to force, and it doesn't take many of them to fuck up the whole game.

Lately I've come to the conclusion that peace and quiet really is a luxury to have. Most people I don't think get to experience it. You need to have money to have it so you can live somewhere nice. Other wise your stuck living in apartment buildings, crowded cities, next to noisy neighbors. Go to busy shared spaces (ppl stop playing radios out doors!) or staying in shitty hotels.

> Lately I've come to the conclusion that peace and quiet really is a luxury to have. Most people I don't think get to experience it.

It absolutely is. I got the chance to live in a quiet neighborhood near the ocean for a few months and I think back fondly to the level of calm during evening walks there. It felt downright _nourishing_ to my psyche.

This is contrast to living within line of sight to San Diego Airport with the first airplane taking off at 6:31a. In addition to waking me up it would also trigger a significant amount of stress - not a great way to start the day.

Cities are not designed for anything resembling healthy living currently. I hope this changes soon.

My apartment complex fire alarms go off once a week due to one smoker or food burning in a single building which then causes every building to start alarming. This week, they are doing testing which means that an entire building fire alarm will go off for every individual unit they test. There are 1000 units here and almost 100 are in my building. I have heard the fire alarm go off nearly 100 distinct times and I don’t even register fire alarms as being useful anymore. These people hate me and want me to die in a fire.

That genuinely sounds like hell - hoping you get a calm environment soon.

It's almost criminal that houses are built so close to the airport. I have a few friends who live downtown in that area and it seems like hell.

Indeed. I understand it's a multi-faceted issue given the economic development the airport has provided (and continues to provide), but it seems health and wellness externalities were not priced in fully. Now that the airport is built and housing density only continues to increase - where does this lead?

From the wikipedia article:

> SAN is in a populated area. To appease the concerns of the airport's neighbors regarding noise and possible ensuing lawsuits, a curfew was put in place in 1979. Takeoffs are allowed between 6:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. Outside those hours, they are subject to a large fine. Arrivals are permitted 24 hours per day.[47] While several flights have scheduled departure times before 6:30 a.m., these times are pushback times; the first takeoff roll is at 6:30 a.m.


I've taken off later than 11:30 PM, i think realistically 12:30 is the cutoff, especially on very busy days. I remember hearing that the first month of lockdown was blissful because there were so few flights coming through.

There are plenty of poor people with peace and quiet in rural areas.

I’m not so sure about that, nature is often loud AF. Agriculture, too.

Have you experienced it? I live rural and actually close to railway/highway but the comparison to urban noise is not even close.

Lol yes. I'm currently avoiding opening up doors/windows because the cicadas are sufficiently loud that I've had ringing in my ears every night for the past week.

Then I see the downvotes on my earlier comment and wonder just what image people have of rural living. Last year I didn't get a wink of sleep on an overnight camp because bullfrogs went hard out the entire night.

Also I'm not sure how this became a binary comparison of the densest urban environments or the sparsest rural retreats. The suburbs exist and that's actually where most people live.

Single examples don't refute the statement that many poor rural areas are quiet. However, if many poor rural areas are quiet, then the assertion that quiet is a luxury is contradicted.

I agree with that take

Short of living near a fast moving river, nature is rarely as consistently loud as living in a city. Rural living, away [0] from rivers and highways (mainly interstates) is remarkably quiet and often very affordable in most of the country.

[0] This doesn't even have to be very far away, and noise can be substantially reduced with a fairly small group of trees between you and the noise source.

I've lived through all the spectrum of apartments from modest to exclusive and luxurious. One thing does not imply the other, it's a matter of luck + how (un)civilized are the people surrounding you.

You've obviously never lived in a penthouse or a private residence on a 20 acre property. Noise pollution is not an issue in those situations.

Yes, one of the things that blew me away about luxury apartments in NYC is the level of soundproofing - both in the windows as well as the thickness between floors/ceiling (a foot plus, iirc).

Depending on where that 20 acres is, you can get it for less than the price of a coastal-city closet.

You'll have a hard life ahead of you, though.

You're right, haven't experienced anything beyond 10M. I guess at the very top you don't have these issues at all.

What do you mean by it's a luxury? That it's nice? or rare? or should be rare?

I think rare in the sense that few can afford to have it.

Part of the problem is that those who don't appreciate it will see how nice a quiet town in the country is, then move from the big city to that town and destroy the very thing they originally enjoyed.

Or bring a bluetooth boombox into the wilderness and play it so it can be heard for a mile away.

I'm sure that every country have tiny villages with cheap land. Buy enough land, build a house in the center, grow some trees around and you'll have peaceful house.

Of course there are other issues with that lifestyle which is why it's not adopted widely, like no work, issues for children, issues with healthcare, but for some people it could work, IMO.

> no work, issues for children, issues with healthcare

There's the rub, no? You need to have a lot of money saved up to not have to work which makes it a luxury. For most people, they need to live near work, which is mostly in or near dense noisy cities.

I'm basically FI and could do that, but the problem is I'd be leaving everyone I know to live alone in a middle of nowhere. Granted, a pretty and picteresque middle of nowhere, but still, it sounds like a recipe for misery. That's why I endure living in a loud and smoggy city...

Just remember the cure can be worse than the disease. I agree with you - mostly because of people who "roll coal" to poison cyclists for fun - but I'm wary of involving authority and force. Somehow there are societies that don't have as much of a problem with things like this, so maybe we should learn from them.

Aren't the societies that don't have these problems, often societies that readily employ authority & force & social coercion? Singapore, Japan.

You believe we need a more authoritarian society because some people live lives that are louder than you deem appropriate and enough so that you are willing to 'respond with force' and you somehow see them as the people who are "fucking up the whole game"?

I don't think the city council is oppressing anyone by having the police issue citations to people who wake me up at night with their obnoxious mufflers.

The personal satisfaction from having a loud muffler is actually less important than my ability to sleep at night.

I may be misunderstanding, but having a city council isn't an antithesis to self organizing societies.

In my understanding abandoning self organizing societies that could have more or less noise friendly communities in favor of top down politics that more closely resemble a centrally planned society/dictatorship.

Allowing a city to define what it means to live within it is generally accepted as not the same as a centrally planned society. Certainly that is the case within the United States, where there are very many options for what kind of city one wants to live in. We are not talking about city-states like Singapore. So yeah, we can penalize the noisemakers and not lose any sleep that we're degrading into a dictatorship.

The Coase Theorem suggests that, with sufficiently frictionless microtransactions, people who prefer to make noise and people who prefer not to hear noise could all be happier.

Maybe a phone app with a decibel-meter and a distance metric to each other such app within hearing distance, with pre-authorized amounts to transfer for each decibel level created/experienced?

"could all be happier" probably not, since currently the noisemakers are maximally happy making noise without paying anybody.

Lots of them would be happier to get a small amount of money for being just a little bit quieter. People preferring peace and quiet would be happy to pay a small amount of money to get fans of noisemaking to stay below their annoyance threshold.

Rough sketch of a potential process: Harley Q. is riding through the hills with the throttle open when her phone buzzes, indicating she's approaching an area with residents willing to pay above her threshold for <80db experienced noise. She rolls off the throttle and coasts through the upcoming neighborhood, or takes the long way around. Maybe a small extra payment would be put in escrow if she doesn't approach that area while making noise for a few more weeks.

Please note that the apparent bias toward paying the noisemaker is an artifact of existing noise ordinances. Coase can only help us from where we currently are, not from an imaginary utopia.

If we place this in a hypothetical city with a 40db noise restriction, which allows neighborhoods to accept louder noises by consensus, the payments reverse; Ms. Q will try to select the cheapest neighborhood she can enjoy her noise through, and its residents will end up collectively richer in exchange for suffering through the noise.

That's like saying, "I'll stop punching you if you pay me $50, but until then I'm really enjoying punching you." Assholes are assholes and should not be paid to not be assholes, they should just stop it or pay others whenever they cross the line (via fines or other means).

> That's like saying, "I'll stop punching you if you pay me $50, but until then I'm really enjoying punching you."

It's not at all like that, because punching people is currently illegal, and making noise up to a certain threshold is legal. I like peace and quiet more than I like making noise, so I wouldn't mind a lower legal threshold; but the advantage of paying people instead of fighting to change laws is that there's no actual fight.

The advantage of casting things as a moral struggle instead of a difference in preferences is, of course, that you might be able to gather enough allies to defeat the other side and take their stuff.

If I can change the laws first, then the other side will have to pay me. How to decide what's the best "starting point" for a Coase bargain?

The starting point for a Coase bargain is here, now. If you successfully get the laws changed before bargaining, that gives you a different starting point for bargaining.

If you do have the ability to reliably get laws changed at some expense, you should bring that up while bargaining; it will give you a stronger position. You should be able to get a deal that's better than actually spending whatever resource it would take to change the law.

That makes sense to me.

This is an interesting perspective. Can I ask what your background is that exposed you to this way of thinking?

Lots of reading game theory & economics, and saying "that doesn't make any sense," then reading it again until it made sense. The "rationalsphere" is where I read most of it; sites like lesswrong, overcomingbias, putanumonit, and thezvi.

Sounds like a magnet for noisemakers to route their trips through while staying just at or under the annoyance threshold -- a threshold which, with increased sensitivity, may be shifting lower.

You'll note that I already suggested a small additional payment in escrow for noisemakers to stay away for a few weeks or whatever. I also doubt even the most noise-sensitive neighborhoods would be willing to pay enough to make regular, special trips just for noise-profiteering worthwhile. If they were, it would probably approach the strength of preference that they'd be willing to fight to change local noise ordinances and get an enforcement push.

Thanks for the correction, I see it better now.

My willingness to accept your loud muffler bottoms out at $100,000 per 100 mS per decibel over 40 dB. If you're willing to put up $4-5 million every time you drive by my house, I'm willing to let you pay me for the privilege of ruining my sleep for your stupid car.

Are you Jeff Bezos? You must be crazy rich to not accept less that $4m for a minute of inconvenience. I'd endure it for $100 - with just a couple bikes per day, I wouldn't have to work!

This is a naïve free market view.

Unless you have a government under your thumb, you'll never compel a population to install this app and all use it. Even if you did manage to convince people to use it, participants will game it into submission before it ever gained relevancy.

> you'll never compel a population to install this app and all use it.

Everyone who uses the app gets something they individually want. Noisemakers get the opportunity to be paid to be quiet, and quiet-likers get the opportunity to enjoy peace and quiet for a bit of money.

There's no coercion necessary, although it does rely a bit on geographically local network effects to be useful at all.

Well, if we're willing to go the financial incentives route, we could just slap their ass with a $250 ticket when they ride through town with loud pipes. No need to get all complicated with phone apps and tracking such.

And the "Didn't-Think-This-Through-Did-You" Department asks if one really thinks the Loud Pipes Save Lives and Freeduhm! crowd is going to use a location-tracking app? If the answer is yes, boy, has the head of that department got some bad news for you.

> Well, if we're willing to go the financial incentives route, we could just slap their ass with a $250 ticket when they ride through town with loud pipes.

That is already a thing: https://tiremeetsroad.com/2019/01/07/how-much-are-tickets-fo..., It's just a bit underenforced.

I could see the Harley crowd being reluctant to install such an app, but I could also see it going the other way with the right marketing. After all, your phone already tracks your location and reports it to any company willing to pay. And what if, instead of just cash, the app gave discount points for a local leather chaps store?

It's obviously a problem that affected people have no way to solve this. Authoritarian use of force is one way that might be effective; other ways might be available. I'd be curious to hear some alternative options.


Sounds are pressure waves that transmit through the air.

Given enough pressure, those waves could even kill someone (bomb).

If we say that there should be no legal limit to sound pressure, then making a bomb explode and killing people should have no legal consequences.

This makes no sense, so we should put a threshold of maximum allowed sound pressure. The discussion now is where is that threshold.

Sometimes outcomes are regulated, not the means of getting to that outcome.

In your case, murder is illegal, but the instrument could be completely legal. For example, water is perfectly legal, although one could force someone to ingest too much water and killing them. It would still be illegal, even though water is legal.

We should still regulate sound levels, mind you.

I mean, you don't need to regulate the maximum pressure, you just need to say "don't kill or injure anyone" right?

You can place the regulation directly on what you want, not just upstream.

Counter-exampe: regulations exist relating to bombs, stabbing, and guns, without having any threshhold of maximum allowed pushing force or speed of matter.


Many most? cities do have noise ordinance laws that would prohibit choppers, but then cops have to decide if that want to take on that battle. Most bikers are super friendly. Some of them are not. One of the biker gangs in my area use a cocktail of drugs that make them fearless, angry, violent and it usually takes half a dozen cops to take down one of the bikers.

It’s not only choppers that are loud.

High RPM street bikes which get “gunned” by their riders are also very loud and more frequent than passé choppers.

sounds like exactly the kind of work cops should be doing

It does, but most cops have spouses and children to go home to. Given options, they will lean towards writing tickets to people less likely to be violent. This is easy to fix and has been fixed in some cities, but then the blowback usually goes the other way. Citizens will complain that the department has been over militarized and will demand the department lose funding until all the military gear has been removed.

You'd think that, but the effort does not always yield the expected results: https://www.npr.org/2019/04/03/709432311/texas-prosecutor-dr...

Harleys stock are actually under the legal noise limit (80 decibels i think?) and are generally that loud due to straight exhaust and a specific cam shaft they use to squeeze more performance out of them. My understanding is folks prefer them to be loud so that they can be better noticed by cars and get hit less often.

Dirt bikes are around 100 decibels, perform like trash and shouldn't be on the freeway near cars in the first place.

Here in Puerto Rico we have herds (20-200) of two stroke bikes that ride together at night for fun. I would gladly trade them for 1000 Harley-Davidsons.

"My understanding is folks prefer them to be loud so that they can be better noticed by cars and get hit less often."

As a member of a motorcycle riding family in the US (I don't ride, but several close family members do) this is hilariously wrong. They like it loud because they like the sound, and they like to get noticed. I say hilariously because I constantly joke with my family members about how silly the bike culture is, and to give full credit to them; they agree.

> like to get noticed

This is a euphemism for "take pleasure in causing physical discomfort to everyone within earshot".

Ha, It did smell like a cop-out when I was told it, but a reasonable enough cop-out that I figured it was at least one form of attention they were after in the process of getting attention from onlookers.

I wouldn't dismiss that claim out of hand.

Whenever I am stuck in stop and go traffic, I can hear/feel lane splitting harleys coming from way behind. Sportbikes just whiz by, making you jump, especially if you were thinking of changing lanes.

I don't believe 'loud pipes save lives' is completely bogus.

If it were really about saving lives, then the rational thing would be to use a safer form of transportation. Hazards like pot holes and debris are unmitigated by the sound of the vehicle, while other types of vehicles can have safety features a bike can't.

That “loud pipes save lives is rubbish” [1]. Even if it were true the ROI on some training and awareness would be far higher.

[1] https://www.quora.com/Do-loud-pipes-really-significantly-sav...

>>ROI on some training and awareness would be far higher.

Motorcycle people generally spend money to placard their cars up with "Watch out for motorcyclists!" stickers so unless you're insinuating the government should use public funds to educate drivers on checking their mirrors and not getting into accidents with motorcyclists I'm not sure what you're actually saying.

Training quantifiably lowers risk - I'm talking about training for motorcyclists. We all have to do some training pretty much everywhere in the world before we become licensed drivers and riders.

In both the UK and US, advanced training courses are available and are recognized my insurance companies who offer discounts.

Anecdotally, the people that I've picked up off the highway have all been on a cruiser-style bike, been wearing improper clothing (usually shorts and T-Shirts) and not been wearing a helmet. Now that's legal here in CO and fine for an individual to make their own decisions. With further training however, you can make better decisions particularly around risk assessment and handling characteristics.

[edit - typo]

OK but individual motorcycle riders are not in a position to train and raise awareness in a way that makes them safe. So from the rider’s perspective, there is no good alternative.

While that may be true there are plenty free or close to free resources on the internet on in libraries and plenty of local friendly groups that often have a focus on advanced riding.

For the folks who are riding around on $20-40k worth of bike with illegal and noisy aftermarket pipes - that they paid for - it's not really an excuse.

It’s not either-or. There are situations where advanced riding will not protect you, but being more noisy will. Plenty of disciplined, advanced riders also choose to be noisier with aftermarket addons, especially on smaller bikes. It’s a trade off that riders make between increasing their safety and being less obnoxious. It’s reasonable as a pedestrian to be annoyed at those that choose the former, but you can’t just dismiss their decision on the grounds that it’s useless- that’s objectively false.

When I used to ride all my problems with other motorists came from people approaching me from behind or to the side, not from me coming up behind people (perhaps because I was not in the habit of lane splitting at every opportunity). I suggest a horn serves the same function without annoying everyone nearby and eventually deafening the rider.

Being heard can help with cars approaching from the side, for example a car moving into your lane while failing to see you.

It’s not a silver bullet but it’s one more layer of safety and I don’t understand why that statement is so controversial? I’m not even advocating for these after-market mods (I don’t use one) just pointing out that there is in fact a tradeoff.

Now, some riders just like being loud for the sake of it, and that is a whole different story.

If “loud pipes save(d) lives”, your insurance company would give a discount for straight pipes. Instead they give a discount if you’ve taken a training course and have ABS. It is bullshit spouted by man-children that just want to attract attention, dishonestly disguised as a safety issue.

This is a very good point. In fact, I'd imagine insurance companies would actually be very interested to know that a bike is being ridden with illegal modifications...

> folks prefer them to be loud so that they can be better noticed by cars and get hit less often

If you want to do something that’s too dangerous to do without infuriating everyone around you, maybe you just shouldn’t do it.

I don’t think those super loud exhausts are stock either. There are tons of bikers who replace the stock pipes with the loudest ones they can find. I don’t get it at all.

Motorcycles reduce congestion and emit less carbon emissions than SUVs, sedans, trucks, etc. Sure, loud exhausts shouldn't be used, but banning them without addressing the problem of incompetent drivers only further encourages a bygone car culture that is already arguably too pervasive in our society.

As a side note, this line of thinking "[it infuriates others so] maybe you shouldn't do it" leans totalitarian which in turn leads to suboptimal outcomes (since no one person or even organization knows the optimal way of living or organizing society -- e.g. no mortals can play "god" so to speak). Also, many people are "infuriated" by trivial things, so it's not always a good way to live life imagining who these ambiguous others are and also to placate to their imagined sensibilities.

I'm not suggesting a ban on motorcycles. I'm a motorcyclist myself but I use the stock exhausts because they are quiet. I do want to ban excessively loud exhausts, or more simply, I want the police to enforce the existing noise pollution laws.

I think that an important part of being a decent human being living in close proximity to other human beings is recognizing and limiting one's own anti-social behavior. I hope that's not a controversial statement.

Agreed on the loud exhaust ban, thanks for clarifying

>emit less carbon emissions than SUVs, sedans, trucks, etc.

Citation needed. I'd be willing to bet money that a honda civic has fewer emissions than a harley.

I think you're right about the straight pipes being after market, but I believe the noise generally comes from the engine configuration firing at uneven intervals that make it unusually distinct.

While they are under the legal noise limit, the low frequency of harleys travels significantly easier through obstacles, making them seem louder inside a house or around a wall / fence / bush than a higher frequency noise at the same dB.

I'm definitely not arguing that 2-stroke is quieter though. Just that it's not quite an apples to apples comparison due to both variables having an impact.

For around a year I lived next to a highway, which was one of the worst rental decisions I've made in my life.

There was a constant stream of noise, but with the cars it wasn't a big problem, because it was the same volume all the time, so I quickly got used to it. Motorcycles though were a huge issue! Every 10-15 minutes there was some motorcycle passing that just distracted me from whatever I was doing. I left that apartment as soon as I could.

There’s some asshole in my apartment complex who decided a car with an engine with a startup sound very similar loudness to a passing motorcycle. I just love walking outside to be greeted by that.

The one thing that makes me even angrier is gas-powered leaf blowers that make multiple passes past my apartment, and seemingly deliberately linger for longer if I'm in the middle of a conference call.

Seriously, go electric and ban those abominations.

They are also hugely polluting, more than cars and trucks: https://www.wsj.com/articles/that-ear-splitting-leaf-blower-...

I would be ecstatic if my city banned leaf blowers.

They might already be—I lived in a city where they were “banned.” And yet I never saw a landscaper using an electric blower; they were always gas.

Warsaw banned them recently. Luckily the authorities started doing something about this nuisance...

A guy that lived on the street down from mine used to ride his about at night, made my house shake. Was so happy when he seemed to move away.

I think this is just not a concern for the general population. There are solutions available if we wanted to address this issue.

There could be a restriction on the vehicle. Some European cities have zones with restricted access to vehicles based on their CO2 emissions. There are stickers that you have to put on your windshield to drive into those areas.

We could have some "noise emission" regulations that ban some vehicles from driving at certain times, like before 9am or after 7pm.

It would be similar to the CO2 emission regulations, there's no need to measure the emissions because you have a sticker that already say what your emission levels are.

Hard to enforce those in the US

We could make re-registering more difficult or impossible for people with addresses in areas with those kind of ordinances

Enthusiasts will have nominal addresses but it can be a deterrent

Not for the pipes though. Most riders wear ear plugs for wind noise and traffic noise at highway speed.

They just sound like someone ripping ass to me. Never understood the obsessions with their awful noise. It's not a good exhaust tone at all.

if the typical biker was a 24 year old hispanic man, they would be outlawed before you could say "ay caramba". Instead, boomers and genx white guys get a pass.

Loud sounds are annoying to be sure, but this sounds also like a bit of an emotional regulation issue in addition, especially if just writing a comment about the event is enraging you.

Stressing about that kind of stuff that you ultimately have little/no control over is an express train to an unhappy life.

There might be some truth to this, though I don't know whether we have conscious control of it.

There's some evidence to suggest magnesium deficiency can lead to an increase in startle response.

you have no idea. i can even sympathize with a murderer. you know, self-defense, impulse... can be anything. but this? this is premediated. just one asshat can ruin entire town. these people deserve lifetime-imprisonment after multiple offence.

> these people deserve lifetime-imprisonment after multiple offence.

You can't be serious when you say that you'd lock someone in a cage for the rest of their life because they broke a noise ordinance.

Anyone could break a noise ordinance inadvertently, eg having a party that went on too long or getting carried away on a DIY project. while I'm not endorsing the life imprisonment proposal, deliberately altering your vehicle to make it loud and obnoxious (or plain noxious, as with 'coal roller' pickups that are modified to belch oily smoke in large quantities) is a calculated kind of sadism that exploits the inconvenience and low probability of enforcement to aggravate others to the greatest extent possible.

I get where you're coming from, but I also believe that loud pipes save lives. Ultimately, is it really that big of a deal?

Is riding motorcycles really that important if it causes noise pollution and enrages people?

Inflicting hearing loss on the unconsenting public is a huge deal.

Denying others sleep is kind of a big deal.

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