Science sez: All that noise pollution is killing you

Tim Robbins' character in Noise was more of a hero than we realized.
Tim Robbins’ character in Noise was more of a hero than we realized.

Living in New York City, we put up with a lot of pollution. Water pollution (which is conquerable for some), air pollution, trash just flying around in the spring winds. There’s also the issue of noise pollution, which can come in many forms: neighbors doin’ it real loud, construction next door, living above a bar, big-ass trucks driving by at all hours of the night. You might think you can just shrug it off, grit your teeth and get through it, but now it turns out that like so many other things around here, all this noise pollution is killing us.

CityLab spoke to audiologist Craig Kasper, a man who makes his living protecting ears from terribly loud sounds. Kasper told CityLab that beyond the mere annoyance of it, constant unceasing noise pollution in the big city can give you high blood pressure and heart disease as you tamp down frustration from it over the years, as well as waking up your sleep, which beyond the obvious problem of leaving you sluggish the next day can eventually lead to lasting sleep problems down the line.

Living under the yoke of constant banging, be it from neighbors, heavy machinery driving into the ground on your block or just all the yelling living here entails can also lead to tinnitus, an ear malady that keeps you from ever hearing silence ever again. Kasper pointed to a WHO report that noted 90 percent of tinnitus sufferers complained of “chronic noise trauma.” Reducing the noise swirling around us at irresponsible volumes is definitely a goal that’s attainable on the one hand, but on the other hand, adding to it by opening your window and screaming “Hey! Shut the fuck up already!” is so, so much more satisfying than calling 311. So we guess we’re just stuck with all this then.

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