March 1, 2007
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison:Madison, Wisconsin has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award for a relaxed attitude toward its growing noise problem. According to The Capital Times, Madison’s afternoon newspaper, Madison is becoming “boom town.”
An investigation by Rob Zaleski of The Capital Times showed noise levels at certain Madison intersections of 75 decibels at rush hour–far above the city ordinance’s limits of 65 decibels. In contrast, noise levels near the tony Maple Bluff Country Club hovered around 51 decibels.
There are numerous sources of excessive noise in Madison: leaf blowers (at 105 decibels), car alarms (at 120 decibels), loud parties, bars, boom cars, train horns, and barking dogs.
Colleen Moore, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and author of Silent Scourge, has researched the health effects of noise pollution on children: “If somebody wants to seal up their home and crank their stereo up, that’s fine. But you don’t have to expose me to it. And if I’m right next door, and it’s at certain hours of the day and the boom-da-boom is vibrating into my home, why should I be subjected to something that might harm me?”
Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director, commented that “what is most egregious about noise in Madison is the attitude of city officials.” He noted that Madison Police Lt. Joe Balles concedes that the city’s efforts are rather disjointed: “There’s no central office or central agency that deals with noise issues.” Mike Hanson, a police department spokesman, admits that noise pollution complaints are a low priority for the department: “To be honest, a complaint for a loud party downtown on a Saturday night at bar time, officers aren’t going to be running over there,” he says.
Rueter noted that “the city’s attitude extends to noise from train horns. Recently, the Madison Common Council refused to spend money to erect “quiet zones” at railroad crossings, to prevent the need for loud train horns at all hours of the day and night. While there was a one-year ban on train horns in Madison, the city’s inaction caused the return of this source of noise.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens organization opposed to noise pollution. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Muzak and the nation’s grocery stores. Noise Free America’s web site is at http://www.noisefree.org.