laboration between acousticians, engineers, social scientists, psychologists, sociologists, and medical scientists to develop new metrics for evaluating the impact of noise, including annoyance, speech and communications interference, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbance, and health effects.
Recommendation 9-1: Academic institutions should offer an undergraduate course in noise control engineering, broaden the scope of the engineering curriculum, and increase the pool of engineering graduates who are equipped to design for low-noise emissions. The course could be offered as an elective in a bachelor’s degree program or as part of a minor (e.g., in acoustics or interdisciplinary studies).
Recommendation 9-2: Graduate-level noise control courses should provide a balance between theory and engineering practice without sacrificing academic rigor. The committee strongly encourages the establishment of graduate internships in industry and government agencies and thesis research programs to motivate students and to build a cadre of future noise control engineers.
Recommendation 9-3: Federal agencies, private companies, and foundations with a stake in noise control should provide financial support for graduate students who assist in research on, and the teaching of, noise control engineering. This support is crucial for the development of noise control professionals and noise control educators.
The U.S. Code (42 U.S.C. Section 4913) requires that EPA “develop and disseminate information and educational materials to all segments of the public on the public health and other effects of noise and the most effective means for noise control, through the use of materials for school curricula, volunteer organizations, radio and television programs, publication, and other means.” At this time, however, EPA does not have the internal resources to create a large public information program, and it is likely that much of the effort will have to be done through contractors.
The labeling of product noise emission levels should be a critical aspect of a program designed to benefit the public and enable people to make informed purchasing decisions. Although EPA has labeling authority, it is more practical for professional organizations, trade associations, and standards organizations to develop labeling methodology for specific products because of the wide variety of products and noise measurement methods.
Recommendation 10-1: The Environmental Protection Agency should take the following actions under the authority of 42 USC 65, Section 4913, to improve public information and education on the effects of noise and the most effective means of controlling noise:
Conduct a survey of all activities by federal agencies related to noise, and publish URLs that provide information of interest to the public.
Develop a categorized list of stakeholders with interests in noise (e.g., professional societies, scientific societies, citizens groups).
Help organize a coalition of current stakeholders with the goal of improving the availability of information on noise to the public.
Develop educational materials to inform the public of the health effects of noise, especially noise-induced hearing loss and cardiovascular effects.
Develop information to help the public understand the benefits of using personal hearing protection devices.
Provide information on the selection and use of hearing protection devices, making intelligent decisions about frequenting high noise exposure events, the importance of reducing noise exposures by buying quieter products, and being vigilant and active in public policy decision making about community noise zoning issues.
Recommendation 10-2: Engineering professional societies such as the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Society of Automotive Engineers, and Institute of Noise Control Engineering of the USA should develop engineering information on noise control to help the public understand techniques for reducing noise emissions.
EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). 1974. Information on Levels of Environmental Noise Requisite to Protect Public Health and Welfare with an Adequate Margin of Safety. Document 550/9-74-004. Available online at http://www.nonoise.org/library/levels74/levels74.htm.