How the media amplified noise topics in 2019

Global news outlets covered noise and hearing-health topics throughout 2019, which helped increase public awareness. Not surprisingly, restaurant news was a recurring theme, and the SoundPrint app got more coverage and ultimately more data. Another issue that got some traction: environmental noise, particularly disruptive sounds caused by technology.

The following is a partial list of noise-related articles (and some podcasts) that published in English in 2019. Noise isn’t limited to English publications, of course. The topic also got excellent coverage in other languages, such as this series on noise from El Pais in Spain.

January 2019

“Restaurants really are louder than ever. Here’s what’s being done about it.” – Andrew Z. Galarneau, Buffalo News
Covers some causes of restaurant noise, and one company (STC Sound Control) that helps restaurants address those issues.

“How much noise is too noisy? Toronto wants to hear from you” – Francine Kopun, The Star.
At the start of 2019, Toronto was soliciting input from its citizens to revise its noise bylaws. Maybe we should check in to see how it went…


February 2019

“Noise pollution in cities” – (short video), Anna Sacca, Deutsche Welle – Tomorrow Today
This short documentary covers the health impact of noise, the Hush City app as a citizen scientist, and the research work of Dr. Antonella Radicchi.

“Dining on Decibels” – The Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast releases an episode about restaurant noise

“Tomorrow’s Cities: How Barcelona shushed noise-makers with sensors” – Jane Wakefield, BBC
Some Barcelona residents were enduring crowd noise and music until late at night and ultimately used noise sensors to measure the disturbance and set some parameters around the commotion.


March 2019

“Get off my lawn” – James Fallows, The Atlantic
The story of how the author successfully campaigned to ban gas-powered leaf blowers in Washington D.C.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) released hearWHO, an app that tests your hearing on a smartphone. You can download it for Android or iOS.


April 2019

“Why are restaurants so loud?” – Esra Erol, Eater

And…although not a media outlet, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued a list of all their publications on hearing health.


May 2019

“Sound and Health – Cities”99% Invisible podcast episode
This podcast series is one of the best-produced and engaging podcasts you can find, and they did a two-part series on noise issues and sound.

“Sound and Health – Hospitals”99% Invisible podcast episode

“Sound Justice, Citizen Science, Noise, and the Quest for Equity” – Bradley Alf, Discover Magazine
Describes the “Sound Around Town” research project in Raleigh, North Carolina, which measures the impact of soundscape on human behavior and sense of place. Residents participated by putting noise sensors in their backyards to measure decibel levels.

Great food, but please do something about the noise”The Guardian

“Is Noise Pollution the Next Big Public Health Crisis?” – David Owen, The New Yorker
David Owen is also the author of the book “Volume Control,” and in this article he covers hearing disorders such as hyperacusis and efforts in major cities to measure and address urban noise. Don’t miss the eight-minute video that accompanies this article!


June 2019

“How to minimize your noise footprint” – Paige Towers, The Guardian
Steps you can take to reduce the amount of noise you create, and how biome active against noise pollution.

“For those with hearing impairments, restaurant noise isn’t just an irritation. It’s discrimination.” – Joyce Cohen, The Washington Post
Covers how people with hearing impairments such as hearing loss, hyperacusis, and tinnitus are impacted by noise issues in restaurants and “legally, disabled people are supposed to be granted reasonable modifications upon request.”

“The Hospital is Too Damn Loud” – Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic
A study showed that daytime noise levels in hospitals are 72 decibels and patients endure about 350 alarms per day. Musician Yoko Sen wants to change the hospital soundscape.


July 2019

“How the sound in your home affects your mood” – Lakshmi Sandhana, BBC Future
Covers the importance of acoustics in any type of architecture and how it the sounds in the built environment can affect your mood, productivity, and health.


August 2019

“Paris is testing ‘noise radar’ that will automatically ticket loud cars” – Jon Fingas, Engadget
The city began a two-year trial, testing a noise-radar system from Bruitparif to identify and ticket very noisy vehicles.

“The Sound of Silence: Here’s What Happened When I Did a Month-Long Sound Fast” – Joel Pavelski, GQ magazine
The author spent a month without headphones, music, and podcasts to hear only the sounds in his urban environment and observe the impact.


September 2019

“Why we need to rethink the concept of noise in restaurants,” Soleil Ho, San Francisco Chronicle
When Soleil Ho became the Chronicle’s restaurant critic, she discontinued the visual noise ratings that indicate the loudness of a venue. She explained why in this article, noting that noise levels can be relative to size of the crowd, the table location, and the background music. She also covered the SoundPrint app and Meyer Sound’s Constellation system.


October 2019

“Why everything is getting louder – the tech community is producing a din. Our bodies can’t adapt” – Bianca Bosker, The Atlantic
Tells the story of Karthic Thallikar, a man who lived in a quiet area of Arizona — or so he thought. However, his life and health was disrupted when a large corporate server farm moved in and began emitting noise day and night.

“Campaigning against the deafening noise in Dhaka” – (short video), Deutsche Welle News.
The story of Mominur Rahman’s campaign against unnecessary honking and traffic noise in Bangladesh’s capital city.


November 2019

“GPS for Air Travel Came with Big Downsides: Noise, Then Lawsuits” – Amy Zipkin, New York Times
The NextGen GPS system uses radar to guide airplanes, and the result lead to more loud airplane noise over residential areas.

“Are noisy restaurants harmful to your health?’ – video, CBC News
Tells a before-and-after story of a noisy venue that made some acoustical modifications with sound panels. Features the SoundPrint app!

NPR interview with David Owen, author of the book ‘Volume Control’ – podcast, NPR

“This was a Diwali of ‘green crackers’ but Gurugram noise level was highest in 5 years” – Shilpy Arora, The Times of India
Local ordinances now require firecrackers to emit less smoke and noise, but the noise-pollution level was still high during Diwali this year. The article also cites the daytime and evening maximum decibel levels for residential and industrial zones.


December 2019

“A new study from MGH appears to have found the brain link between noise and cardiovascular disease” – Christopher Gavin, The Boston Globe
Researchers have found that noise creates inflammation in the human body via the amygdala — “the part of the brain that assists in processing emotions and responds to fear and stress.”

“West Bengal cops to fight year-end noise demon with high-tech gadgets”The Times of India
Police in this area of India will use GPS noise-measuring instruments to identify noise levels and locations, and enforce noise ordinances.

Let’s keep noise and acoustics issues in the news in 2020! By increasing public awareness, we can solve some of our most persistent noise-pollution issues together.

Did I miss an important article in this list? Send me a note here.

Best of 2019: how the media covered noise issues
Tagged on: