April 1, 2009
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: Whelen Engineering of Chester, Connecticut has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for manufacturing “The Howler,” designed to produce intense low-frequency noise on emergency vehicles.
The “Howler Low-Frequency Tone Siren” produces noise that can he heard from 200 feet. Its low-frequency booms can easily penetrate homes with their windows closed.
The rationale for The Howler? To make police, fire, and ambulance sirens even louder, to overcome high ambient noise from boom cars and motorcycles. In other words, The Howler is an added layer of noise.
Whelen Engineering brags that The Howler is “an effective added layer of warning when used with your 100/200 watt siren amplifier. Howler provides deep, low frequency tones, which are able to penetrate other vehicles, alerting drivers and pedestrians of your approach.” Whelen also notes that The Howler “adds a minimum eight-second penetrating burst of low frequency siren sound for use in heavy traffic, intersections, or other high ambient noise conditions.”
Unfortunately, the Emergency Medical Services Authority–Oklahoma’s largest ambulance company–recently becamethe first ambulance service to equip its entire fleet with Howler sirens. A company spokesperson joked that the new sirens sounded like “a vacuum cleaner on steroids.” The Associated Press stated that The Howler “produced booms that sounded like a 1980s video game played at an earsplitting level.”
Tulsa police officer Mike Avey asserted that The Howler will “make going through intersections much safer. People are on their cell phones, people have $1,000 sound systems. You’re going to feel it.”
“What people are going to feel,” stated Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director, “is physical pain. Low-frequency vibrations are very dangerous, leading to vibroacoustic disease. Environments with low-frequency sounds below 100 Hz are especially dangerous. Vibroacoustic disease leads to visual problems, central nervous system lesions, immunological reactions, and psychic disturbances. It can also lead to cancer, rate, and suicide.”
Rueter added: “You cannot fight noise by added another layer of noise. The auditory assault from The Howler’s low-frequency will make America’s noise problem much worse. More than 30 million American are ‘hyper-sensitive’ to noise. Low-frequency noise is very painful and upsetting to that population.”
“I’m also appalled,” Rueter concluded, “that public officials are so short-sighted. Instead of dealing with the noise from boom cars, they decide to make more noise. Instead of looking at safety in terms of long-term physical effects on citizens, they only look at the ability of emergency drivers to blast people out of the way. Any police or fire department that purchases The Howler is making a big mistake.”
Noise Free America is a national 501c3 citizens organization opposed to noise pollution. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Congressman Darrell Issa, Governor Jesse Ventura, and the Massachusetts Department of Education.