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There’s a serious public health threat that most Americans are exposed to every day. According to the World Health Organization, the health effects of even short-term exposure include sleep disturbance, stress and anxiety, while long-term impacts include increased risk of ischemic heart disease, cognitive impairment among children, stress-related mental health risks and tinnitus (chronic ringing in the ears).
It’s not a contagious disease nor the result of unhealthy diet or lack of exercise. The problem is noise and its twin challenges are whether we can reduce it at the source while minimizing the degree to which it adversely affects human health and quality of life.
Last month’s New Yorker called noise pollution the “next big public health crisis,” an opinion supported by astonishing numbers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that hearing loss from all causes (age, disease, noise damage, etc.) is now the third most common chronic health condition, after diabetes and cancer, while the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that approximately one-third of people between 65 and 74 in the U.S. has hearing loss and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.