Study: Manhattan Street Noise May Be Deafening

Authors Suggest Wearing Earplugs Due To High Decibels

NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880/ 1010 WINS) — If you’re visiting New York City, the hustle, bustle and noise are part of what makes your stay here exciting.

If you live here, those are some of the things you just get used to.

But as CBS 2’s Don Dahler reports, new research strongly suggests that constant noise is damaging your ears.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

1010 WINS’ John Montone reports

Crowds, trucks, sirens … they are all the music of Manhattan.

Walk down almost any street in the city, and your ears are under attack. A new study released Wednesday at the International Conference of Urban Health sounds a warning about all this sound.

Ninety-eight percent of measurements taken in 60 spots around the city were above 70 decibels, which doctors say can cause irreversible damage over time.

And researchers say it’s not just the horns or the trucks or the construction, it’s the constant onslaught of all this noise that’s doing the damage.

The noisiest places in the city according to the study were Times Square, First Avenue above 14th Street, Broadway in Inwood, and the Upper East Side.

The results shocked no one in Times Square.

“It doesn’t really surprise me, although I hadn’t really thought about it much. But now it makes sense, considering how contained it is,” said Pilita Danesh of Williamsburg.

When asked if he thinks New Yorkers are just used to all the noise, Michael Burton, originally from Philadelphia, said, “We probably are. We probably get some kind of immunity to it. But it is actually surprising to hear.”

Jimmy McMillan said rent may be too damn high, but he doesn’t think the noise level is.

“We all know New York has a little noise, but we’re getting old, and I think most of the older generation that the eardrums are sensitive,” McMillan said before being interrupted by a passerby. “Thank you sir,” he continued. “Rent is too damn high.”

But the authors of the study aren’t laughing. They suggest wearing ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones. Hearing loss is completely preventable, and permanent.

The study also shows that even in parks around the city the noise levels measured above 70 decibels, which means there aren’t many places you can go for an escape.

More from Marla Diamond
  • Rebecca

    I love revelation like this too – maybe people will start doing something about it. Life is so much better when you turn down the volume. And, gearing protection is so much more advanced now than just foam ear plugs. Mashable review gives ‘ringing endorsement for ear plugs’.

  • Youssef E. Hassan

    The solution is related to energy saving, keeping a clean environment and stopping all types of pollution. The lawmakers should encourage the widening of public transport to be desirable and available everywhere around the clock and discourage the production and use of the private cars.

  • Eric in Manhattan

    One of the most annoying and overly loud noises are the back-up beeps from buses and trucks. They can be ear piercing. Why do they have to be so loud? If the idea is to warm people on the street they are backing up, why must we hear it way up in highrises?

  • CSI

    Whats the difference. People walk around with their MP3 players blaring in their ears anyway.

  • Don Juan

    Even getting on a City bus can be noisy . . . ever hear the noise when the bus lowers to board passengers.

  • henning n andersen

    and the noise in europe is a hundred times worse because of lack of automatic shifts which makes drivers love to drive in too low gears.

  • henning n andersen

    and they even plan to make electric automobiles artificially noisy.

  • Al

    Of course, everyone knows that loud noise is bad for hearing; few people do anything about it, which is surprising since many people change their lifestyle to avoid bad health effects.

    That attitude hurts the individual, it hurts society economically, & justifies people making more noise (shouting, loud music) that hurts others directly.

    The important point about this story is that ordinary street noise can damage hearing, and that people can do something about it – wear ear protection on the street & subway.

    • Andre

      How about limiting the worst, the noise made by ambulances, firetrucks and police cars?

  • Bob

    I love revelations like this, I truly do. So loud noises can damage hearing, can it? Groundbreaking. Stay tuned for this crack research team’s next investigative report that standing out in the rain can result in a wet head, and that the sun is hot.

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