Taxes, Humans and Birds Effected by Noise
Addison and Chittendon Counties, Vt– Tax payers fund buy-outs in South Burlington due to air port noise. Studies show noise pollution causes hearing impairment, especially in children. Ornithologists, who study birds, report that “acoustic masking” may be a selective force shaping bird populations world wide.
Vermont may be quiet compared to other states, but we don’t escape noise pollution
According to the Children’s Hearing Institute, sounds of greater than 110 decibels or louder poses risk of permanent hearing loss and prolonged exposure to sounds constantly at or over 85 decibels can cause gradual hearing loss. To put this into perspective, a vacuum cleaner approaches unsafe exposure at 70 decibels. While most places are quiet in Vermont most of the time, traffic and airports are bringing complaints from residents.
Studies show human physiology responds to loud or constant noise with a stress response. The human body isn’t supposed to constantly be in that state. Chronic stress response has consequences, which may include increased cholesterol, lowered immune response, high blood pressure, even insomnia.
Arline Bronzaft, a former professor at Lehman College, City University of New York, conducted a study at a school located next to elevated train tracks. “When we compared reading scores, the students on the noisy side of the building were one year behind the students on the quieter side. After rubber pads were placed on the tracks and acoustic ceiling tiles were installed in the school, the gap in reading scores vanished.” Bronzaft is also chairperson of the Noise Committee of the Council on the Environment of New York City. The NYC tax payers took care of the expense for acoustic tiles, but it’s money which might have been spent on badly needed class resources.
According to an NPR story, in South Burlington, the Dumont Street neighborhood is emptying as the airport buys up properties purchased with FAA tax dollars. Vermont has yet to face noise like NYC tax payers, but we’re seeing indirect expense already in decreased home market values in areas like South Burlington. Also, noise pollution can create anger responses. Police across America respond routinely to disputes over loud sounds like stereos and barking dogs. Those disputes can become aggressive and even violent and pose a hidden cost to tax payers. Vermont police do see disturbance calls, though most do not become violent.
An article written to satisfy a Journalism course assignment