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Silence Is Golden

I never really thought about noise pollution as anything serious. I always figured it was just people exaggerating that things were a little loud. But when I moved to DC I began to realize that noise pollution may actually exist. I hear sirens at all hours of the night, there is construction on what seems like every corner and motorcades have gone from exciting to annoying. Thurston, while fun is not a place for sleep. I can hear almost anything my neighbors do as well as all the conversations that occur in the hall, which while it can be entertaining out of context is distracting. Plus with four room mates in one room with no dividing walls, sleep is more of a wish than a reality. I’ll catch up over break because it sure is not going to happen any time soon in this room.

Noise pollution includes the noises that everyone thinks of as bad for hearing but also includes the noises of everyday life. Studies show that it causes sleep problems, which when young can interfere with learning, immune system and increase the chance of heart attack. There was a study done that showed that test scores were lower for children living in the lower, noisier floors of Manhattan apartments. People who live near airports have higher levels of the body’s stress hormones.

According to a survey by the American Housing Survey more than 40 percent of americans are in areas that have enough traffic where the noise they can hear in their house is bothersome.

While noise pollution may not be the biggest threat to society it is still an issue, and one we can do something about. You have all seen the quiet signs, the residential area do not honk signs on the streets. Things like this reduce the noise. We can also attempt to be more considerate in our rooms as well. Do you all have problems sleeping? Too loud?

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 6, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    The issue in preventing noise pollution is that noise is a natural byproduct of a densely populated area (such as the capital of the United States), and possible solutions for reducing noise pollution are either expensive or impractical (and often both).
    Construction, unfortunately, is necessary. There won’t /always/ be construction near where one lives, but while there is, every measure will be taken to bring the area back into normal operation, which includes working during an earlier schedule (sometimes as long as from sunrise to sunset). To decline the opportunity to work with this schedule for noise reasons, the duration of the construction is lengthened by an unanticipated amount. This hinders progress and ultimately hurts the residents of the area, as most of the construction performed is in order to restore damaged or older areas to bring them up to today’s standards. It’s a tremendous imposition on the construction workers as well, who may have based their days around the set contract that they expected to work.
    As for noise within residential areas, there are ways to ameliorate the situation. Noise complaints are a viable option when it is simply not possible to sleep or work because of the amount of noise coming from someone else’s room. However, care should be taken in this approach, as it involves the police in your crusade for silence. As well, if the desired outcome is a space in which you can work, there are always places that will be quiet or silent, such as the Thurston basement, Gelman, or even unused classrooms outside of normal class hours.
    I believe that shifting noise responsibility may not always be the right response, as it often puts a much greater strain on those causing the noise than it does on those trying to avoid it. Earplugs are an option that I’ve seen, especially among our residents here that come from a larger city to begin with. Take it as you will, but up to a point, the noise will be there. It’s our responsibility at that point to do what we can to let it bother us less. If no reasonable compromise can be reached to mutual satisfaction, why be in a city college in the first place?

  2. November 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I did not mean it as an unbearable situation, far from it. I meant to bring up the idea that there are strange things of in our environment that do damage to our health that we do not think about, but in a way we could relate to. We all get woken up or kept up by room mates and noises outside, but it is interesting that this can actually have an effect on health. I am aware college is not the place for hours and hours of sleep, but with all the posts about sleep it seems to be on our minds. It seems to come up in conversation with people again and again on campus, that something woke them up, kept them from sleep, or disrupted their sleep. I found it interesting of the long term effect that this environment has on us.

  3. November 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    This is a very good discussion topic because I think it affects most of us. Even though I don’t have many problems sleeping, I do understand the concern. Ambulances in DC are very obnoxious, altogether with some EmERG cars or cop cars. I think that noise pollution is very relative, depending on each individual and how they cope with the situation. But for instance, as lmorella said, there is another type of noise pollution, which might include roomates, parties, social events, music, etc.. However, one solution I reccommend is using headphones to minimize distracting noises.

  4. November 6, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    I come from a very quiet area too, and was also quite shocked at all of the noise once I moved here. Yes, I had expected it before coming here, but living in it is a different story. I love the high energy and life of the city, so I guess a city wouldn’t really be a city without all of its noise! However, I have had more troubles focusing since moving to the city, and sometimes I worry about being able to get my homework done or studying for tests while I’m here. I had never really thought about the health aspects of the noise, but now that I do it completely makes sense. I guess it is just something we’ll all have to learn to live, with. Hopefully we’ll each be able to find our own mechanisms to work around it and the other obstructions that come along with college life. Plus, there’s always the vern!

  5. November 6, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Silence is becoming an increasingly foreign concept to our generation. We have grown up in households where televisions blare and handheld video games beep. We spend our time talking to others, whether on our cellphones or via webcam. We shut out the stillness of the world with headphones on full volume.

    Come to GW, and you’ll find more of the same. If dorm rooms are occupied, you can bet that there’s either a TV or boombox making some sort of racket. As if the sirens and jackhammers outside weren’t bad enough, we subject our ears to bad techno music and football telecasts.

    When we can’t stand the commotion any longer, we retreat to the library. There, entrenched within the artificial sanctuary of Foggy Bottom, we finally remember the sound of silence. And it feels so… strange.

    The human ability to communicate is miraculous. It allows for the diffusion of ideas between individuals in a manner entirely unique to our own species. In many ways, it is a form of art. But all the nuanced beauties of sound and language are sacrificed after the volume passes a comfortable threshold. After all, what good are the words of others when we can barely hear our own thoughts?

    As far as I see the matter, each and every individual has a right to live and work in some form of peaceful surroundings. So if you’re trying to get to sleep on a Friday night and you’re roommate is rocking along to dubstep at some ungodly volume, feel free to put your foot down. Tell them, with whatever tone of politeness that you so see fit, to shut the hell up.

  6. November 7, 2011 at 1:12 am

    I think all of us can agree that noise is a large part of our lives at GW. Like some of you, I come from a quiet neighborhood so the large amount of noise at late hours of the night is sometimes jarring, particularly on the weekends. The halls of Thurston are frequently full of life at sometimes ungodly hours and my ears are sometimes left ringing as I drift to sleep in my 6-person room. I think aletorio’s suggestion to use headphones is a good one, as I often use my headphones and listen to classical music in order to focus on my work when my room is full of people. I find lmorella’s examples of the effects of noise pollution on learning and functioning very interesting, as I’ve never before thought of noise as something other than simply something annoying. As I hardly ever have trouble falling asleep with noise in the background, it has never occurred to me that excessive noise, even just everyday noises, could be detrimental to my health. I think if we all make an attempt to be just a little quieter and softer in our actions, it would be beneficial to all.

  7. November 7, 2011 at 1:47 am

    I come from a quiet area as well, but I find I don’t have any trouble sleeping here, no matter how loud, because I always listen to my sleep playlist before going to sleep so it has the dual effect of drowning out the loud noise of thurston partiers and making me so drowsy that I can ignore the noise once I am asleep. I think that since I’m used to listening to music before sleeping I have become accustomed to hearing noise that even without my headphones I can sleep comfortably. Although the one problem I have with sleeping here is that my roommate comes in at three in the morning and turns the bright lights on to study, thus waking all three of us up. I still have yet to figure out a solution to that problem, maybe a sleep mask will do the trick.

  8. November 7, 2011 at 4:31 am

    I’m also from a quiet area, but unlike sacul29, I have noticed a difference in my sleep and study quality. I used to be able to study with music on with no problem whatsoever. Now, having moved to the city where the noise level is generally elevated in comparison, I find that I have a harder time studying and sleeping for longer periods. There is something that always breaks my concentration, or wakes me up. But it’s an elevator or an alarm or someone shouting in the hallway, it’s that all three are happening at the same time!

    This has made me wonder about my ability to study well with music in the first place. Was my performance relatively unhindered because that was the only distraction? Based on what I’ve experienced since I’ve been here, I’d have to say that it is. Did or does anyone study with music or other noise in the room, if so, why do you think it helps?

  9. November 7, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    I beg your pardon, but I do believe that Rock & Roll is not noise pollution.

    Nah, but seriously now. Washington, DC is not that bad when it comes to noise pollution. In NYC, it’s horrible. You get wanna be gangsters blasting their “music” from their 1997 Honda Civics. You get Harley riders, car alarms, and people making unnecessary noise.

    Washington, DC s a vacation for me when it comes to noise pollution.

  10. November 7, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I think I like the noise. I like being in the city, I like that everyone is moving, going from place to place. Just one thing after another. I guess at times it seems like it could get a little bit restless, but its nice to know that there are all these people out there and we’re part of something that alive. I don’t really like the quiet, and strangly enough i think the street sirens, and the noice of cars moving to and fro helps me fall asleep. In my home town, there would be a train that ran through the city every night. Hearing it chugging, and that wistle blowing from a distance was sort of like a lullabye. Complete silence for me would be insanity. Yes, you make some good points about too much noise being a bad thing. But we live in a city, what did you expect?

  11. November 8, 2011 at 12:28 am

    I live in Madison, and even though there is construction right across the street, I have had no problems sleeping. Occasionally I will hear a siren go by in the middle of night, but for the most part my sleep has not been interrupted by noise. Thats also part of living in a city. Because so many people live close to each other, there is always going to be constant noise. This was actually something I was worried about before coming here to GW because i didnt grow up in a city. I grew up in a suburb on the west coast and never really had any problems with noise, and I was worried that my sleep would be shortened with all the new sounds at all times. Luckily it has not affected me, but it also helps that Madison is a quiet dorm so I dont have to hear things going on all the time.

  12. November 8, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Aside from the more “science-y” aspects of noise pollution– here I’m speaking of neurological and physiological effects– excessive noise simply takes a toll on the psyche and thus the body. The studies on those who lived close to airports having higher levels of stress is nothing unimaginable. I find the more noises I hear, the more silence I want and the more hearing an increase in noise drives me absolutely bonkers. However, I also find myself adjusting to the loudest and oddest of noises, so much so that when we evacuated for the gas leak last night, it took me a full forty seconds to realize that I was hearing an alarm at all. My roommates and I have all found different ways to cope with this: one wears ear plugs and noise reducing head phones, some take sleep-aid supplements, and one roommate and I both watch TV shows on our computers until we eventually doze off as a sort of ambient noise. I don’t know if we can blame it on noise pollution but none of us have gotten a good night’s sleep in weeks.

  13. November 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    This morning all of us in my room were awoken by the construction around the corner from Thurston. We had talked the night before about how they had just put up the sign saying that it was going to be a Marriott, and we figured that would work out well on parents weekend and move in day since all the hotels seemed to be booked then. Right after we looked out the window to see if we could get a look at the construction, a motorcade went by. It ended up with a whole discussion about who had seen which motorcade when and where, what were were the differences in the motorcades, and when did certain ones travel (Biden’s goes back and forth from the Vice President’s house at the same time almost every day). It seemed funny that motorcades had become such a part of daily life to us in such a short period of time, none of us are from DC but we all were so used to them and knew different facts about them already.

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