Exposure to noise is a fact of life. At high levels, noise can damage hearing, and at lower levels it can disrupt sleep patterns, interfere with communications, and even cause accidents. A new National Academy of Engineering report characterizes the most commonly identified sources of noise, looks at efforts that have been made to reduce noise emissions, and suggests ways to decrease exposure in workplaces, schools, recreational environments, and residences.
Development of noise control technology needs immediate attention, said the committee that wrote the report. America should become more competitive in the production of low-noise products, both to improve quality of life and to advance innovation.
The committee recommends that the federal government explore potential engineering solutions along with changes in policy to control negative effects of noise in the workplace, in communities, and at home. These include cost-benefit analysis of noise reduction, especially for road traffic noise; improved metrics for noise control; lower limits for noise exposure in industry; "buy quiet" programs; wider use of international standards for noise emissions; airplane noise reduction technology; and noise control in public buildings. Improved cooperation between industry and government agencies, particularly the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is also called for.