Marking International Noise Awareness Day

INAD informs us that noise is harmful to our hearing, our mental and physical health, and children’s learning

| 15 Apr 2022 | 09:07

In 1996, aware of the growing increase in noise pollution and understanding that noise impacts adversely on mental and physical health, the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC) established International Noise Awareness Day (INAD). I assisted Nancy Nadler of CHC in this effort, with the fourth Wednesday in April being set as the day to educate people to the hazards of noise and the benefits of a quieter, healthier world. This year INAD will be celebrated on April 27.

The first INAD took place in New York City and was marked by a number of activities, including a declaration from former Mayor Giuliani at City Hall, a van set up by CHC for hearing tests and poster contests on the dangers of noise in some of our schools. Within a few years, INAD was recognized across the United States and internationally.

INAD informs us that noise is harmful to our hearing, our mental and physical health and well-being, and children’s learning. It also gives us the opportunity to teach people that there are ways to lessen the noises in our lives as well as those of others. INAD also promotes the importance of quiet. (

Sadly, the pandemic cut back on live activities of International Noise Awareness Day and this year, like the past two years, there will be some activities virtually. On April 27, at a virtual conference in Canada where I will be making a presentation, the focus will be on quiet parks and quiet spaces. For those interested, please look at this site and consider joining us. (

Let us use International Noise Awareness Day to learn more about how noise affects our health. You can do this by going to the GrowNYC website (; I serve on the board of GrowNYC and oversee its noise activities.

We should also use INAD to make ourselves more aware of the rules and regulations that limit noise intrusions. The Federal government, though the Office of Noise Abatement and Control, was at one time active in educating Americans to the dangers of noise and to ways to reduce noise pollution. However, former President Ronald Reagan, essentially defunded this office and it was left to the cities and states to protect citizens against noise pollution.

NYC Noise Code

The New York City Noise Code, which can be accessed at the Department of Environmental Protection website (, regulates most of the noises in New York City and it can be amended periodically to better deal with the city’s noises.

Recently, the State passed the Stop Loud and Excessive Exhaust Pollution Act to penalize motorists and repair shops that modify vehicles to make them louder. New York City now has a pilot project to test out cameras placed on streets that could capture the licenses of very loud cars and then penalize them for this action.

With respect to neighbor noise, state leases and building rules set limits on noise in apartments. Knowing the rules and regulations that limit noise intrusions in New York City allows citizens to better address the particular noise problems they face. Of course, they should also realize that their public officials can assist them with noise problems. One additional way that we can have a quieter city – respect your neighbors’ right to quiet.

While noises are unwanted, intrusive and unhealthy sounds, we must not forget the good sounds in our environment: waves against the shore, birds singing, children’s laughter, music. Even some louder sounds are welcomed, like children shouting at the characters in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, or loud voices encouraging our favorite ball teams at stadiums.

We are not asking that these enjoyable sounds be silenced when we advocate for less noise in our environment. Also, the pandemic allowed us to hear some of the more pleasant sounds, like bird singing. Those living near airports had fewer planes flying overhead and they were pleased to sit in their back yards and see and listen to birds. I sat in a small park near my apartment building and was delighted to hear and see so many birds nearby.

For over forty years, I have researched and written about the hazards of noise and the importance of quiet. I am pleased to say that more people worldwide are now asking for less noise and for more quiet spaces and parks. Hopefully, New Yorkers will join us in advocating for a less noisy, quieter and healthier environment.

Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, City University of New York, has conducted research and written on the adverse effects of noise on mental and physical health. Some of her writings can be accessed at GrowNYC.