The Pollution Series: Noise Pollution in Dearborn

The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States to promote an environment for all Americans free from noise that jeopardizes their health or welfare. To that end, it is the purpose of this chapter to establish a means for effective coordination of Federal research and activities in noise control, to authorize the establishment of Federal noise emission standards for products distributed in commerce, and to provide information to the public respecting the noise emission and noise reduction characteristics of such products. (Pub. L. 92–574, § 2, Oct. 27, 1972, 86 Stat. 1234.)

In the progress of civilization, although so much emphasis and effort has been placed on fighting environmental pollution, chemical pollution, food pollution, air pollution, water pollution, and radioactive pollution, we have been regressing on the fight for reducing thermal pollution, and not paying any attention to Noise pollution, Light pollution, Visual pollution and Personal pollution.

The focus of research and discussion in today’s post is Noise Pollution. Exposure to noise is associated with several negative health outcomes. Depending on duration and level of exposure, noise may cause or increase the likelihood of hearing loss, high blood pressure, ischemic heart disease, sleep disturbances, injuries, and even decreased school performance.[SOURCE]

The unit to measure noise is dB. To put things in perspective, any normal person can hear sounds 0 dB and higher.  People with good hearing can hear down to -15 dB.  A normal conversation takes place at about 60 dB.

A bulldozer that is idling (note that this is idling, not actively bulldozing) is loud enough at 85 dB that it can cause permanent damage after only 1 work day (8 hours).

A 100 dB is loud enough to begin causing permanent damage after just 15 minutes per day! A clap of thunder from a nearby storm (120 dB) or a gunshot (140-190 dB, depending on weapon), cause immediate damage.

Noise is unwanted sound.  In 1972, congress passed the Noise Control Act, but in 1981, they ended it.  Only States and locality address noise today.  OSHA requires employers to provide a hearing conservation program to workers exposed to 85 dB average 8-hour workdays.[SOURCE]

If you have lived in Dearborn all of your life, you probably have not experienced true silence ever.  Even if you don’t live in a neighborhood that experiences the additional obnoxious noise of  revving engines, randomly lit fireworks, unnecessary honking, aggressive driving, and children converting streets to basketball courts, wherever you live in Dearborn, you will still experience noise pollution. You will be exposed to the continuous highway of airplanes above you descending to Detroit Metro Airport, the continuous flow of trains, apocalyptically honking on intersections, and the background sound of highways, and specially motorcycles in the summer.

It is unlawful for any person to unreasonably disturb the public peace and quiet,…

A study in Denmark found that 5% of all strokes are caused by traffic noise.

Is there regulation against noise? Yes there are!

Michigan allows vehicles to produce up to 86 dB of noise. That is annoying given that 86 dB is very loud!  Nevertheless, what we hear all day is a revving engine of a motorcycle or a muscle car, or a car with an adjusted exhaust system, producing over 100 to 120 dB of noise.  A horn is usually between 120 and 175 dB.

A person who, at the time of installation, knowingly installs a muffler or exhaust system which exceeds the decibel limits of this division shall be liable to the person who receives a citation for violation of section 55-7-58 for the amount of not less than one hundred dollars ($100.00), plus reasonable attorney fees and court costs.

In Europe, vehicles with noise over 74 dB are not allowed and that is going down to 62 dB by 2025.

The average sound of a cruising Ford Mustang = 79.9 dB, which makes it not allowed in Europe all together.  That is a testimony to the civility of Europe, and the incivility of the American car manufacturing with regard to noise pollution.

The 2018 Ford Mustang will come with a “Good Neighbor Mode,” which will set out to do exactly what the name entails. The industry-first feature will allow Mustang owners to limit exhaust noise and to schedule when that GT V8 will roar at its loudest. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker details a fateful morning in which the man and his V8 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang had the police called on them for being too loud.

Another effort is taking place by State Rep. Henry Yanez, D-Sterling Heights, who has introduced House Bills 4725 and 4726 to repeal the Fireworks Safety Act of 2011, said in a statement in June that the law hasn’t passed the test of time.

“We’ve tried allowing residents to buy and shoot large fireworks,” he said. “But the complaints from neighbors and the damage they’ve caused, or nearly caused, in many communities has proved the 2011 law to be a bad idea.”

The affects of that noise is far-reaching. It effects our health, distorts our thinking, impacts our emotions, increases our stress level, and destroys our peace and mindfulness. It is our collective duty to be aware of such pollution that decreases the quality of our health, life, and well-being, and put an end to it. If not for us, then for our kids.

Wissam Charafeddine




  1. […] talking about the Noise Pollution in the last episode, I started noticing more and more the sound of the streets and highways.  Did […]



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