Quiet Clean Heights urges noise awareness

Quiet Clean Heights is an initiative that seeks to raise awareness of the health and environmental impacts of noise and air pollution in our residential neighborhoods. Two national campaigns share some “resonance” with our mission this month: Autism Acceptance Month, and International Noise Awareness Day (https://noiseawareness.org/) on April 26.

As lawncare season begins, Quiet Clean Heights intends to advocate for quieter, healthier neighborhoods by promoting low-impact lawncare alternatives.

The CDC warns that sound intensity, the penetrating energy of sound, is a greater risk to hearing than loudness, especially at levels above 85 decibels. Gas leaf blowers produce noise of a particularly intense and penetrating quality, typically at 80-85 decibels. Operators are at highest risk of hearing damage and should wear appropriate hearing protection. However, unprotected residents and pedestrians have no control over the sound penetrating windows, walls and ears.

Law protects us from exposure to second-hand smoke in public places, but few options exist to control external noise and dust intrusions into homes. The Quiet Clean movement, under varying names, has led positive change in over 150 municipalities and counties. Quiet Communities Inc., founded by health and environmental scientist Jamie Banks, is dedicated to helping communities reduce health and environmental harm from noise and pollution. For more information, visit https://quietcommunities.org/

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a broad diagnosis for individuals with neurosensory differences. An estimated 90% of autistics experience sound sensitivities, or hyperacusis. Sounds acceptable or unnoticeable to a "typical" person may be distracting, overwhelmingly distressing, or even physically painful to an autistic.

A large portion of the general population is also affected by unwanted noise and hearing disorders. There is growing research into the effects of noise pollution on human health, especially stress levels and cardiovascular responses. It is an emerging public health issue with noise-induced hearing loss on the rise—especially among young people.  

Cleveland Heights has a culture that promotes kindness, mindfulness and inclusion. Quiet Clean Heights urges residents to accept that some people are born with sound sensitivities, and assume, if one neighbor complains, there are others suffering in silence. Be aware of noise exposures and take action to protect hearing.

To share your thoughts or experiences, contact quietcleanhts@icloud.com.

Alice Jeresko

Alice Jeresko is an environmental advocate who moved to Cleveland Heights in 1998.

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Volume 16, Issue 4, Posted 10:45 AM, 04.02.2023