We are now well into fall and that means one thing—colorful leaves are everywhere. While you may be tempted to grab your trusty leaf blower during your weekend chore time, you should think twice before subjecting your ears and those of your neighbors to the dangerously loud sound these machines produce.
What Is Noise Pollution?
Exposure to unwanted, bothersome and elevated sound levels that may lead to adverse effects in humans and animals is known as noise pollution.
Any sound that measures over 85 decibels (dB) can cause damage to your ears. According to the Environmental Pollution Centers, noise pollution can lead to:
- Hearing loss
- Sleep disturbance
- Child development issues
- Cardiovascular dysfunctions
- Psychological dysfunctions
Erica Walker, a doctoral student at Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health, was interested in how much sound we are exposed to noise in our daily lives. She completed a comprehensive noise assessment of the Greater Boston Community, the first of its kind since 1971, focusing on four main topics:
- Sound mapping
- Noise survey
- Neighborhood noise report cards
- Community sound portraits and urban sound bites
She surveyed 1,050 residents from a number of different neighborhoods. The vast majority reported that they could not control noise or get away from it. About 79% reported that they believed no one cared that the noise bothered them.
A number of things contribute to environmental noise, including airplanes, buses, trains, barking dogs, blaring music and even loud talkers. One of the biggest contributors is leaf blowers.
Some leaf blower models can create a stream of air that travels more than 200 mph and produce noise as high as 112 dB.
If so many folks are bothered by loud sounds, it is surprising that people still purchase and use leaf blowers. One reason for this is that sound is much less irritating to its creator than to its recipient. According to Walker, this is because recipients of nuisance noise have no power over it.
Another proposed reason is the increase in landscapers. While it used to common for people to do their own yard work on their days off, usually the weekend, landscapers now can be found working any day of the week.
What Can Be Done?
Many communities have passed laws banning or restricting the use of leaf blowers, while others have noise ordinances in place that dictate how much noise is acceptable.
The best thing you can do to protect your hearing this fall is to simply use a rake. To learn more about protecting your hearing or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact the Hearing Zone today.