“Community” Noise is a major concern in all
areas, as residential development expands within cities and rural
Conflicts continually arise between residents and those who would
Major “culprits” are “boom cars,” construction, motor race tracks, industrial and commercial establishments, aircraft, mining operations, and road traffic – but a surprisingly large number of complaints come from relatively simple problems like noisy air conditioners and pool pumps, barking dogs or footfalls in multi-level dwellings that can be easily solved.
ESA specializes in environmental noise remediation, including the development of noise ordinances and training of enforcement personnel. We are active with the Noise Pollution Clearing House (www.nonoise.org) and serve as the technical advisor to Noise Free America, a national group dedicated to the reduction of noise (www.noisefree.org).
Case # 1
In an NFA case, a resident in
Our recommendation was to replace the horn with flashing strobes inside the tunnel. I would imagine that the safety director’s recommendation was to replace the ‘boneheads’ who originally selected the horn and then moved it outside instead of replacing it.
Case # 2
A noise issue at a paper
processing facility in
Our first step was to interview the complainants to determine what they were hearing. This is a very important in these types of issues. The answers are often surprising.
On a very cold day in February, I found myself on top of the facility roof taking sound measurements and recordings of the noise from various blower exhaust and intake vents. We met again with the residents, played the recordings, zeroed in on what was causing the noise, and made recommendations for silencers that solved the problem.
This was similar to another
case in northern
Rooftop vents at
View from the
roof of an
Reflective surfaces like that shown at the right played a role in increasing
sound transmission to residences well beyond the railroad tracks
Case # 3
Noise need not be
“excessive” to be annoying. In an
interesting case, an elderly resident of northern
He paid for a new fan blade assembly with more blades. The new fan moved more air – and the sound was reduced and shifted to a higher frequency.
This is a good example of people working together, instead of going to court, to try to resolve noise issues. Our role as a mediator often produces excellent results. We have found on numerous occasions that the cost of remediation is far less than the costs of litigation.
Case # 4
Recreational facilities are a common source of conflict with regard to noise. We work regularly with not only citizen groups and attorneys, but those designing race tracks, shooting ranges, nightclubs, etc. - or defending themselves against noise complaints.
In these issues, we find that both sides may have valid positions. Our job is to bring logic to a discussion that may be dominated by emotion. All parties need to know what can be done to reduce noise – and what cannot. We are constantly dealing with “hidden agendas” – people complaining about noise when other issues are dominating their thoughts.
In many instances of development, we perform the noise portion of the environmental impact study for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In this case, working for a developer of a motocross facility in the Mohawk Valley, we recorded and analyzed the sound data from nearby tracks and, working with topographical maps, photos, and information supplied by the American Motorcyclist Association, developed plans for a track layout and sound barriers that would satisfy virtually all demands.
The small valley at the tree line in the distance was the recommended site of the motocross facility, with the natural slope of the land and the trees forming a noise barrier between the facility and residential areas
Case # 5
few years ago, we received a call to help solve a unique
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