between vehicle tires and road surfaces. At highway speeds this tire/road interaction noise dominates noise emissions from vehicles, and efforts are being made to design road surfaces and tires that minimize this noise. The efforts of the Federal Aviation Administration to develop a cost-benefit approach to analyze noise around airports could help in the development of a similar project to analyze options for reducing highway noise.

Recommendation 7-1: A formal cost-benefit analysis should be performed to compare the costs and benefits of using pavement technology for noise reduction with the costs and benefits of installing noise barriers. This cost-benefit analysis should be a cooperative effort of the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the several states with technology programs in road surface design. Inputs to the analysis should include data from analyses of noise reduction efforts around airports.


In some areas—notably aircraft noise, occupational noise, and highway noise that can be reduced by barriers—government regulation has been instrumental in reducing noise. But this report shows that improvements can be made in other ways as well. For example, authority for cost-benefit analyses, interagency projects, and the dissemination of public information on noise was given to the EPA by Congress. Because of a lack of funding, however, EPA has been unable to carry out these activities. The study committee recommends changes that will make it easier for the federal government to improve the nation’s noise climate and with it the lives of American citizens.

Recommendation 8-1: The Environmental Protection Agency should carry out its coordinating function under 42 USC 65, Section 4903. The agencies with noise-related activities include the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Science Foundation.

Recommendation 8-2: Congress should pass legislation and provide the necessary funds to establish the Environmental Protection Agency as the lead agency in the development of a cooperative effort on noise measurement, abatement, and control involving federal agencies, state governments, industry, consulting firms, and academia. An EPA office should implement 42 USC 65, Section 4903, and the legislation should expand the authority already given by Congress to ensure that the agency can effectively manage a program to meet the following objectives:

  • coordination and cooperation among existing interagency groups concerned with noise

  • clear delineation of the roles of federal agencies, as well as state and local governments

  • assisting American industry in lowering noise levels in the U.S. workplace and developing industrial and consumer products with noise emissions that are competitive with foreign products

  • development of international standards for the measurement and labeling of noise emissions

  • active U.S. participation in the harmonization of noise emission requirements worldwide

  • development of metrics for environmental noise that truly represent community response to noise

  • ongoing assessment of the costs and benefits of noise control

  • increased research on the health effects of noise, especially nonauditory effects


The committee reviewed the state of noise control engineering education in the United States and concludes that the nation must educate more specialists in the field and provide basic knowledge of the principles of noise control engineering to individuals trained as specialists in other engineering disciplines. Undergraduate education in noise engineering varies greatly from institution to institution, both in terms of the department in which it is housed and in the courses offered. Funding for noise control engineering programs at universities is problematic, and support for graduate students to assist in research (or teaching) and to develop a new cadre of professionals is inadequate.

The multidisciplinary nature of noise control engineering poses challenges for engineering practice and for lifelong learning. Elements of noise control engineering degree programs should be formally taught by faculty in academic units or departments (in engineering, physical sciences, and architecture) in an intra- or interdisciplinary way. Major professional societies (such as American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Society of Mechanical Engineering, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Institute of Noise Control Engineering of the USA, Society of Automotive Engineers) and other stakeholders should organize symposia (or special sessions in regular conferences) where leading academic and industry leaders can propose and refine curricula and suggest improvements in teaching methods and delivery mechanisms. Collaboration among academic, research, and industry leaders will be necessary for the development of interesting case studies or practice modules that could then be disseminated to teachers of undergraduate courses.

Funding is particularly important for research on environmental noise, which encourages interdisciplinary col-

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