December 1, 2016
For immediate release
Chapel Hill: Hammacher Schlemmer, America’s longest-running catalog, has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for selling toy yard work equipment, intended to introduce youngsters to the joys of making unnecessary noise.
Hammacher Schlemmer boasts that the “sound emulating junior landscaper’s tools” provide “realistic” sound. The toy lawn mower “generates the pleasing sound of a mower on a weekend afternoon.” When the noisemaking from lawn mowing is complete, the youthful landscaper may use “a realistically molded shoulder-mounted leaf blower,” which “cleans up the grounds.” A “press of a trigger causes a puff of air to activate dozens of circulating foam pellets in the nozzle to stimulate motion while it generates a whoosing sound. The blower stores the included ear muffs and eye googles—signs of responsible landscaping stewardship.”
Sally L. Lusk, Professor Emerita, University of Michigan School of Nursing, states that “encouraging children’s use of noisy tools is promoting the wrong message to a vulnerable group. Instead, children need to learn that noise is harmful to their health. It is well documented that noise has negative effects on everyone’s health, and has a greater effect on children. Because their body systems are still developing, they are more susceptible to its effects.”
“While most persons are aware that environmental noise can cause hearing loss and tinnitus,” said Lusk, “research in the past two decades has documented its negative effects on all parts of the body. The American Academy of Nursing’s position statement indicates that noise is a public health hazard, having a significant impact on the health of our nation and its economic well-being. In addition to hearing loss and tinnitus, noise exposure contributes to increased heart disease, stroke, anxiety, stress, depression, learning difficulties, sleep disorders, hyperactivity, obesity, low birth weight, prematurity, and reduced cognitive abilities and job performance.”
Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet, commented that “there is nothing ‘pleasing’ about the hum of a lawn mower. Millions of Americans are obsessed with their lawn, using gas-powered lawn mowers and gas-powered leaf blowers to blast away any hint of imperfection. Consequently, many American neighborhoods have become leaf blower hell. Leaf blowers kick up dirt, dust, debris, and animal droppings. Also, using a gas-powered leaf blower for one hour emits as many toxins into the atmosphere as driving a car for one hour.”
Rueter noted that “the advertising copy states that the toy lawn mower and leaf blower employs ‘responsible landscaping stewardship,’ by virtue of including goggles and ear muffs. True ‘responsible landscaping stewardship’ would involve creating the least amount of noise and air pollution as possible. The company’s claim is ridiculous.”
According to Rueter, “Hammacher Schlemmer asserts that it has offered ‘the best, the only, and the unexpected’ for 167 years. By selling ‘the sound emulating junior landscaper’s tools,’ Hammacher Schlemmer is offering the needless, the worthless, and the harmful. They should stop selling this product.”
Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is a national citizens’ organization opposed to noise pollution. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include “turbospoke” (making bicycles sound like motorcycles), the “boom box on a bus,” and remote keyless entry systems.