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indoor noise pollution

today i am set to write one of my two remaining papers for Society, Nature, and Technology – a class i took an incomplete in last semester b/c i could not catch up w/ all of the missed work due to Solar Decathlon. i was also really burned out and exhausted, so that was another reason i didn’t finish the work, and is one of the reasons i took off the semester to work. anyway, enough analysis – it’s time to write!

my first paper in the class was a small meditation on technology a la Heidegger. my final paper in the class was an exploration of the current state of automated home systems – what brought them to fruition, what their future might be, and what blocks them from gaining a significant foothold in modern houses. i’ve occassionally posted my thoughts on that, and once even had a home automation installation specialist from thailand post a comment! perhaps i’ll post my papers in the future…

today, though, i am going to focus on indoor noise pollution. not many people even think about the amount of noise that we have to contend with inside our offices and homes. that noise generally comes from HVAC, lighting, and computers, though there are certainly other items that create noise. most people disregard the associative noise as not worthy of attention, or a necessary component of modern life. but i intend to show that such noise contributes to an atmosphere that can lower concentration levels and heighten anxiety. many people will think that this is tree-hugging hippy ranting, but why is it, then, that people have to go out to the quiet country to relax? why do we need to take vacations in serene settings? sure, we want to get away from it all, but one of the most significant differences between our modern surroundings and undisturbed nature is the constant background hum of various mechanical devices designed to ‘enhance’ our quality of life.

of course, nature is chock full of it’s own noise, albeit a very different kind of noise. modern mechanical noises tend to be constant, whereas ‘nature’ tends to be sporadic. modern tends to inhabit sound frequencies not normally found in ‘nature’ – when was the last time you mistook a brook or wind blowing through leaves for an air-conditioner?

additionally, offices (moreso than homes) are very likely above the acceptable decibal range for indoor noise pollution. all modern buildings are designed to meet a threshold of noise – generally accomodating for mechanical equipment. due to improper design and maintenance, loads of buildings exceed that noise threshold. just this past week i was building a model in the office of our partner architect, and the entire time i was amazed at house loud the ventilation was as it escaped the vents. this leads to my next component – the advance of newer methods to distribute ventilation will allow new systems to be designed to reach lower maximum noise thresholds.

that’s a tall order for a 5 page paper, so perhaps it will be cut into two papers. either way, it’s something that is near and dear to my heart. ACTUALLY, maybe the second paper will deal with outdoor noise pollution in regards to road traffic (buses and trucks) and lawn maintenance (lawn mowers, leaf blowers, weed wackers)! i hate those things! i’m pretty sure that somewhere in my future will be the passage of a law banning leaf blowers from earth…

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  1. June 4, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I have a baby in a shot gun house with her mommy and her two sisters in the city of New Orleans. I’m very aware of indoor noise polution. I’m thinking about one of those indoor fountains to place in our bedroom (were the baby currently sleeps too).

    Suggestions?

  2. Sarra
    March 31, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Finally someone I can agree with! I am writing a paper about noise pollution which was thought to be ridiculous by many of my colleagues. I mostly found my friend’s reaction shocking when I presented the topic to her. She laughed at me and said” If that’s what you’re passionate about then do it!” Which is a nice answer but it was almost mocking and sarcastic! But I AM passionate about it and I’m so happy to have come across this blog after a long feeling of isolation in this area of reasoning!

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