When Simon and Garfunkel recorded their original folk version of “The Sound of Silence,” they sold only 2,000 copies. When unbeknownst to them, producers added an electric guitar track, it became a megahit.
Clearly, many folks prefer loud sounds — in some situations.
But the onslaught of unwanted noise that surrounds most people every day (and in urban areas, at night too) damages more than your hearing, according to Dr. Mathias Basner, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine, Division of Sleep and Chronobiology.
In his recent TED talk “Why noise is bad for your health — and what you can do about it,” and his research published in The Lancet, Dr. Basner says noise pollution is not only correlated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, it also impacts your emotional well-being, and may increase the risk for cancers and other chronic diseases.
The United States could save $3.9 billion annually by lowering environmental noise levels by five decibels — and that's just from expenses related to noise-induced cardiovascular problems.
So what can you do?
• Make noise about excess din in your environment, including at movie theaters and restaurants.
• Tell your city council to curb late-night disturbances, such as unnecessary sirens or garbage pickups.
• Lower your family's noise footprint (try raking leaves instead of using the leaf blower), and protect your kids from excess noise from earbuds.
• Get away to quiet places on weekends so you can enjoy the true sound of silence and ease the health-harm that unwanted noise causes.