From time to time I receive push back from the Loud Biker Cult[ure] that their illegal motorcycle noise is simply “just noise.” “Hey, what’s the big deal? I’m here and gone in a few seconds, don’t you have anything better to do than worry about my NOISE?”
Every production street-use motorcycle to be operated on the public roadways of the United Sates, whether manufactured in the United States or abroad, must be certified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) relevant to “total” motorcycle noise emissions. This certification process is required out of a concern for the health and welfare, the quality of life of the general public. The U.S. EPA via their Code of Federal Regulations (See Subparts D&E) limits motorcycle noise emissions for street-use/public roadway use, 1986-year model-forward, production motorcycles to a respectfully quiet “total” motorcycle noise emissions of 80 dB(A) as per the Society of Automotive Engineers, SAE J331a “Full-throttle drive-by testing procedure.”
Unfortunately, 60% to 80%+ of the motorcycles operating on the public roadways of the United States at any given time have had their U.S. EPA, factory-installed muffler removed and replaced with a NOT FOR ROAD USE aftermarket exhaust that emits four-to-twelve+ times (logarithmic scale) the legal, “total,” motorcycle noise emissions of 80 dB(A) – the “minimum” level of protection for the general public. The following collection of studies confirms the negative physiological/psychological ramifications of illegally LOUD motorcycles, automobiles and trucks currently operating almost completely unencumbered on our public roadways. Contrary to what the Loud Biker Cult[ure] in our Society would have you believe, their NOISE is much more than simply noise!
As I have researched the causative factors under-girding the exponential rise of “illegal” transportation noise in the United States, I was most surprised to discover the unfortunate de-prioritizing of interest in studies relevant to the physiological/psychological effects of transportation noise subsequent to the de-funding of the “Office of Noise Abatement and Control” (ONAC) in 1981. The most telling, informative, relevant studies are primarily taking place in Europe, Australia and India while the most prolific destroyer of good daily quality of life standards in the United States i.e. illegal motor vehicle noise, is…for all intent and purpose, completely ignored by our Legislators, the U.S. EPA and most tragically, our Law Enforcement Community. The “first duty” of Government in the United States is “PROTECTION.” Why is the United States Government refusing to intercede on behalf of the vehicular NOISE beleaguered American citizen?
If you have any questions relevant to the Loud Biker Cult[ure] in the United States, questions concerning causation relevant to why our public roadways are flooded with illegally LOUD motor vehicles, please see the following articles and video.
- Article: The Truth About Loud Motorcycles the Police Won’t or Can’t Tell You: https://rickeyholtsclaw.com/2016/03/10/the-truth-about-loud-motorcycles-the-police-wont-or-cant-tell-you/
- Article: Motorcycle Noise Enforcement – 101 (for law enforcement): https://rickeyholtsclaw.com/2016/09/12/motorcycle-noise-enforcement-101/
- Video: Loud Motorcycles? (Pt. 1) THE LAW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouBsdUq-2Iw
- As presented to select Congressional Representatives in Washington D.C. in May/2017, The American Quality of Life Act – 2017 (A Federal Motor Vehicle Muffler Mandate): https://view.publitas.com/p222-12679/american-quality-of-life-act-2017-congressional-bill-proposal/
Note: The following research/studies were quickly selected at random from the Internet and I will endeavor to include informative articles as time permits subsequent to adequate study and review. If you have any relevant studies of interest concerning environmental noise, transportation noise specifically, please share them and I will, most appreciatively, include them here.
Rick Holtsclaw, Houston PD/Retired Concerned Citizens Against Loud Motorcycles – Facebook C-CALM
A Few Studies – Transportation Noise and Dissonance/Physiology
Quiet please! Fighting noise pollution
The WHO [World Health Organization] team used the information to calculate the disability-adjusted life-years or DALYs—basically the healthy years of life―lost to ‘unwanted’ human-induced dissonance. Their results might surprise you.
They found that at least one million healthy years of life (yes, one million) are lost each year in Europe alone due to noise pollution (and this figure does not include noise from industrial workplaces). The authors concluded that ‘there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population’ and ranked traffic noise second among environmental threats to public health (the first being air pollution). The authors also noted that while other forms of pollution are decreasing, noise pollution is increasing.
Extent of the problem: Estimates of the extent of environmental noise in the United States are far from complete, and research has suffered as a result of a deprioritizing of noise; the most recent EPA data expressly on noise pollution are from 1981. Approximately 104 million Americans are at risk of heart disease, hearing loss, and other health effects caused by environmental noise. Recent evidence from outside the United States suggests that the problem is serious; the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, in Europe, the burden of disease associated with environmental noise pollution from traffic alone is higher than the burden associated with lead exposure, ozone, or radon.
Scientific evidence: Chronic environmental noise produces a wide variety of adverse health effects, including fragmented and disrupted sleep, annoyance, and hearing loss. These effects in turn lead to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, neurological/psychiatric sequelae, and morbidity associated with hearing loss. Studies that address the home/work environment have demonstrated a dose-response relationship between chronic ambient noise levels and increased blood pressure; an increased incidence of heart disease; problems with complex tasks in children, along with attention/learning disabilities and hyperactivity; increased distractibility and annoyance in adults; and an increased incidence of diabetes. Current understanding of the causal pathway from exposure to chronic noise to morbidity/mortality includes repetitive sleep fragmentation and micro-arousal (and its cardiovascular and cognitive effects) as well as noise annoyance (leading to stress and its cognitive effects) and the direct effects of hearing loss from noise. Disordered sleep similarly leads to increases in accidents and learning difficulties among both adults and children. Increased noise annoyance also leads to cognitive difficulties (decreased ability to concentrate, learning problems) and stress (which likely contributes to the aforementioned cardiovascular and endocrine effects).
How City Noise is Slowly Killing You
Transportation Noise Affects the Health of People
Transport noise – the health impacts of noise pollution
Whilst living in cities, near airports or road and rail links, might prove useful for the commute, the noise levels can sometimes be too much to bear.
A growing body of research reveals, transport noise can cause sleep disturbance, cardiovascular disease, elevated hormone levels, psychological problems and even premature death; studies on children have identified cognitive impairment, worsened behaviour and diminished quality of life.
The European Commission acknowledges that traffic noise is one of the main local environmental problems in Europe and the source of an increasing number of complaints from the public. More widely, the negative effects of transport noise have been known for years, but in light of pressing air pollution problems, noise has often taken a back seat. The situation now appears to be changing. At the close of last year, the European Environment Agency (EEA) released it’s TERM 2008 report Transports at a crossroads, the first to contain an assessment of EU-wide noise data. The findings paint a bleak picture – 55% of those living in urban areas with more than 250 000 inhabitants in the European Union 27 member states (67 million people) endure daily road noise levels above the lower EU benchmark for excess exposure.
Increased risk for developing cardiovascular diseases
The results published so far show that aircraft, rail and road traffic noise in Switzerland leads to adverse health effects. For cardiovascular disease mortality, the most distinct association was found for road noise. The risk of dying of a myocardial infarction increases by 4 per cent per 10 decibel increase in road noise at home. Also the risk of hypertension and heart failure increases with transportation noise. “Particularly critical are most likely noise events at night regularly disturbing sleep,” says Martin Röösli, principal investigator of SiRENE and professor of environmental epidemiology at Swiss TPH and the University of Basel. “The threshold for negative health impact is lower than previously suspected.”
Noise also favours Diabetes
In addition to cardiovascular diseases, transportation noise also increases the risk of developing diabetes. This is shown by an examination of 2,631 people exposed to different degrees of noise pollution. “Two mechanisms play a role,” explains Nicole Probst-Hensch, Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Swiss TPH. “On the one hand, the chronic release of stress hormones influences insulin metabolism. On the other hand, sleep problems are known to negatively affect metabolism in the long term.”
The effect of transportation noise on health and cognitive development: A review of recent evidence
Contribution by a Physics Instructor
I’m glad someone brought up the issue of the impact and measurement of sound levels. Yes, this is a scientific measurement of sound levels which are, by design and implementation, measures of air pressure variations. A commonly used unit of air pressure is the Pascal (in honor of Blaise Pascal, the father of fluid dynamics). It is sometimes confused with sound power measurements (energy, watts over time). Both are logarithmic (exponential) mathematically and somewhat perceptibly. Thus a six deciBel (honoring Alexander Graham Bell) increase in pressure is a 4x increase in power. I could go in to much more detail but this isn’t the forum to do so. I have taught the physics of sound at a college level, and have spent much of my academic career studying it.
Back to the point, Measurement and effect are somewhat different. Now I’m being academic. The common (legally) used scale for noise measuring instrumentation is “A” weighted, meaning that it accounts for the statistical interpretation of what humans are most sensitive to. I, personally and professionally, don’t agree that an “A” weighted scale tells the whole story. I’m alone in that assessment as far as the EPA and other regulators. This is why I differ. The human sensory system is designed for survival of the species. When we hear a roar (low frequency energy diminished by the “A” weighted instrument), it does not reflect our visceral response. Our adrenal glands produce cortisol designed for “flight or fight”. We haven’t yet evolved beyond that. This human response is well known. Our bloodstream is inundated with a hormone designed to keep us safe. Unmuffled vehicles produce energy below what our ears perceive Yet our body does. It’s known as infrasound. Our military is very aware of this phenomena. We’re wired for it!
Noise is power in every sense, literally and figuratively, and should be minimized such that when it’s necessary for survival it’s useful. Otherwise, it’s like Aesop’s fable of continually “crying wolf”. It eventually loses its innate usefulness. Then we die! Mostly from stress related illness, like the number one killer in America, heart disease. I am so perplexed as to why three percent of the population (or less) [the Loud Motorcycle Culture] has this much power over our lives. Man, I could go on…as I type this… unmuffled motorcycles, trucks, et al invade my domicile and my mind, with such a stupid, selfish, idiotic declaration of their perceived freedom. Not to mention our political representatives who blindly support them, cynically, for campaign donations. Sorry Rick, but showing me how evil they are…well, my outrage meter is broken. I have a dark heart today!
Clean Air Act Title IV – Noise Pollution
What is Noise Pollution?
The traditional definition of noise is “unwanted or disturbing sound”. Sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleeping, conversation, or disrupts or diminishes one’s quality of life. The fact that you can’t see, taste or smell it may help explain why it has not received as much attention as other types of pollution, such as air pollution, or water pollution. The air around us is constantly filled with sounds, yet most of us would probably not say we are surrounded by noise. Though for some, the persistent and escalating sources of sound can often be considered an annoyance. This “annoyance” can have major consequences, primarily to one’s overall health.
Noise pollution adversely affects the lives of millions of people. Studies have shown that there are direct links between noise and health. Problems related to noise include stress related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption, and lost productivity. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is the most common and often discussed health effect, but research has shown that exposure to constant or high levels of noise can cause countless adverse health affects.
Learn more about the health effects:
The Noise Effects Handbook, Office of Noise Abatement and Control, US EPA, 1981 Exit
Noise and Its Effects, by Dr. Alice H. Suter, Administrative Conference of the United States, November 1991
Noise Control Act – 1972 Congressional Statement
42 U.S. Code § 4901 – Congressional findings and statement of policy
The Legislative Aspects of Noise Pollution
A Brief Review of the Legislative Aspects of Noise Pollution by Dr. Brind Kumar*, Sharad V. Oberoi@, Akash Goenka @ http://home.uchicago.edu/~mstaisch/Sharad/papers/Legislative%20Aspects%20of%20Noise%20Pollution.pdf
With the advancement of science and technology at an unprecedented pace, the urban centers of today’s world have evolved not just in size but also in terms of the living conditions provided by them. This has brought about an increasing new awareness about the noise pollution, which has become a part of our day-to-day lives. Studies have been conducted to trace the amount of damage caused by the noise from various natural as well as man-made sources, especially traffic. In fact, noise has come to be associated with the mental, physical, emotional and psychological well-being of an individual, be it human beings or even animals. In legal terms, noise can be considered as an assault on an individual. Apparently, this is a potential hazard to the provisions of sound living conditions and needs to be checked at planning, administrative and judicial level.
UCLA Health Impact Assessment Clearinghouse
Policies that affect noise levels ultimately influence noise pollution. A major source of urban noise is attributed to mass transit as well as other transportation modes. Noise from motor vehicles includes engine acceleration, tire/road contract, horns, and alarms. Therefore, strategies to decrease noise are being considered to improve the quality of life among urban dwellers.The associated health outcomes from noise are considerable. Noise-induced hearing loss is a significant problem in urban settings among industrialized nations. In addition to auditory damage, increasing attention is being paid to the non-auditory health effects of noise. Hearing loss has negative effects on interpersonal communication, quality of life, and work-life as it disrupts speech and sleep, increases stresses, and reduces productivity in the workplace and in school. Excessive exposure to noise is often associated with adverse effects on mental health (arousal of cortisol and catecholamine) and the cardiovascular system.Noise adversely affects short and long-term memory and sleep patterns, affecting productivity in the workplace and school. The Centre for Sustainable Transportation (February, 2004) reported that low-level but chronic noise of moderate traffic can stress children and raise their blood pressure, heart rates and levels of stress hormones. In addition, Evans and colleagues (2001) examined the two comparable groups of children living in noise conditions and found that children in the noisier neighborhoods had elevated resting systolic blood pressure and an elevated heart rate reactivity while taking a reading test and had higher self-reported perceived stress scores in comparison to those in less noisy neighborhood. Further, girls displayed diminished motivation in standardized behavioral protocols.