The list of adverse health effects of noise is growing longer, as studies are becoming more sophisticated and more comprehensive. In addition to hearing loss and tinnitus, cardiovascular disease, mental illness, sleep problems, concentration and learning impairment, are some conditions that can either be caused by or made worse by noise.
Ongoing low frequency sound, which can come from any one or more of a variety of sources including amplified music, pumps, fans, boilers, ventilation plants, foundries, blasting/quarrying, roads, rail and air traffic and electrical installations (to name just a handful) can also cause joint damage and, as new studies suggest, even hair loss.
“We’re trying to fall back to a more measurable, objective standard that applies across the country,” Peterson said.
The Community Noise Pollution Control Regulation moderates sounds commonly found within residential, commercial and industrial areas.
The Salt Lake Health Department’s approach to noise pollution should be considered a promising step in the largely ignored domain of noise pollution regulation. Peterson says that it is the Health Department’s job to investigate if any harm is being done, and when it comes to noise pollution, the studies are quickly adding up to one conclusion: noise pollution is unhealthy and needs to be addressed.
While the Health Department will not be able to enforce noise regulations dealing with interstate highways, air space, railroads or military installations, it can make a dent in the everyday noise that adversely affect area residents.
“There aren’t too many circumstances where we deal with people being exposed to really dangerous levels of noise,” Peterson said. “For the most part, we’re trying to preserve the level of quiet that we have so that as the city expands and the valley grows, we don’t create new sources of harmful noise.”