Noise that Annoys: Regulating Unwanted Sounds

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  • Topic: Noise pollution, Noise regulation, Aircraft noise
  • Pages : 4 (1442 words )
  • Download(s) : 84
  • Published : October 25, 2010
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Noise that Annoys: Regulating Unwanted Sound
In many developed countries, such as some member nations of the European Union, governments have stepped in to protect citizens from this aural assault with regulations that set maximum sound levels for construction equipment, vehicles, and airplanes. Switzerland has gone so far as to prohibit aircraft departures between 11:30 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., except in unusual and unforeseen cases. Yet Americans seeking relief from noise pollution are remarkably powerless. A Regulatory Void

Years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had federal regulatory authority over noise pollution. Working through the agency's Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC), EPA staff developed model noise codes that were provided to local municipalities upon request. With assistance from the EPA, these model codes were then customized to address local noise pollution sources and concerns. The EPA also had enforcement authority over the Noise Control Act of 1972, a national law designed to protect Americans from "noise that jeopardizes their health or welfare." ONAC was preparing to establish federal noise standards for transportation sources and construction machinery when its funding was abruptly cut off in 1981 by the incoming Reagan administration. With one stroke, the administration crippled the Noise Control Act and left the country without a coherent national noise policy. Reagan's view was that noise was better managed by states and local communities. However, Blomberg says, with ONAC's closure came cuts for federal assistance in this area. Without federal dollars, more local efforts to fight noise pollution were forced to compete forstate funding--often unsuccessfully. Meanwhile, efforts to draft national noise standards for transportation sources--which at the time were cited by the EPA as the greatest source of residential exposure to noise pollution--were stopped in their tracks and have not been revived. Since ONAC's...
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