Health Risks/Noise Pollution

On September 15, the crowd cheering on the Seattle Seahawks to a win registered at 136.6 decibels, at the time a world record for stadium noise. For all the fun noise can be, many experts agree that it can become a health risk after extensive periods of time. While leaf-blowers are useful and effective, the noise they generate is a real concern.

Many facts support this stance. Highland Park Board of Health reports that the noise from leaf-blowers can reach 100 decibels at the operator; about 71 percent of the noise during the Seahawks game. However, the operator has to suffer this amount of noise for many hours, many days a week.

According to an essay in the Oxford Journal written by professor and researcher Stephen A. Stansfeld and Mark P. Matheson, noise is related to increased hypertension, added annoyance and decreased cognitive ability. They add that noise also disturbs sleep, by decreasing restfulness even when the sleeper does not wake up and realize it.

Adults have inner methods of coping with noise and can minimize its impact, this same essay states. However, it adds, this ability is not fully developed in children so they are the most at risk. Excessive noise can harm long term memory and impair reading comprehension.

Mr. Stansfeld and Mr. Mathseon even report that according to a study by S.M. Barrreto, A.J. Swerdlow and others, workers with occupational noise levels above 85 decibels run a higher risk of injury in a motor vehicle accident.

Gas-powered leaf-blowers are an unnecessary form of noise pollution because there are so many alternatives. There are rakes, brooms, vacuums and even electric blowers.

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