Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Fall 2009 – page 5

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Purchase and donation of good books

Gordon Hempton is an acoustic ecologist, who has long noticed the rapid decline of natural quiet or silence and  got the idea of protecting a large area from noise pollution by just protecting one square inch 100%. He, together with John Grossmann, co-authored the book One Square Inch of Silence; One Man’s Search For Natural Silence In A Noisy World (Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.), published this year. The prologue of this book is posted on our website under “readings”.
Our board decided to purchase 80 copies of this book and attached CD, 61 of which were donated to a selection of B.C. public libraries. Our sincere thanks to Dr. Blyth Hughes for stamping the books, and to David Ryland of the Public Libraries Services Branch for distributing them.

Ear protection—a modern concern

An article by Adam P.W. Smith in the July/August 2009 issue of B.C. Musician magazine describes the various types of earplugs currently on the market, explaining their advantages and disadvantages. He tried out two types of over‑the‑counter professional earplugs: the Etymotic ER 20 and the Alpine Music Safe. Both are superior to drug-store foam earplugs, but not as expensive as custom-fitted ones.
The Alpine earplugs cost $40.00 and are more comfortable than the Etymotic ones. The Alpine model has three plastic inserts that can be chosen to select low, moderate and high levels of amplitude. They come with a piece of plastic for easy insertion, but because they are smaller than the Etymotics with a short stem, they are more difficult to remove. 

The Etymotic earplugs, costing $22.00, are more visible than the Alpines with a much longer stem.


Both manufacturers claim to reduce sound levels by about 20dB, but the writer feels that it was more likely true of the Etymotics; he also found that they could be physically uncomfortable to wear, especially if inserted too far.
In comparing the Alpine and Etymotic with cheap drug-store earplugs, an audiologist stated that they all provided adequate protection. However, the two brand names offer improved sound quality, durability, and appearance. In conclusion, the Alpine earplugs have superior appearance, while the Etymotic ones offer ease of use and simplicity. Because Smith had difficulty finding either brand from a B.C. retailer, he suggests using a Canadian retailer on the Internet; in particular he recommends www. earbuddies.ca.

– Edited by Carole A. Martyn

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iPod users and hearing loss

Gilly Maycock, a Grade 9 student at St. Margaret’s School in Victoria, was one of fourteen winners of the 2009 annual WorkSafeBC Al Appleton awards. She was concerned about possible hearing loss through using regular iPods, particularly among teenagers.

She conducted her research by listening to the music in a variety of noisy environments compared to listening in an enclosed closet. Finally, Maycock concluded that the use of standard iPod ear buds in typical noisy teenage gatherings would probably encourage users to turn up the volume, resulting in potential hearing loss.


Consequently, Maycock had two suggestions following her experiment: using specialized noise‑reduction ear buds which block out most back-ground noise, and also an iPod lock that limits maximum volume.

It is most encouraging to hear about teenagers finally becoming aware of the potential dangers of permanent hearing loss through excessively loud music.

Source: WorkSafe Magazine,
July/August 2009, p. 15

“Orchestrating an Indoor City –
Ambient Noise Inside a Mega Mall” study

– Jeffrey Hopkins, University of Western Ontario

The acoustic space of shopping malls is orchestrated by mall management to promote a stimulating, enjoyable sense of place, conducive to their economic, political, and social purposes: to get people inside their corridors to spend time and money.

The perceived qualities of the sounds and the physical intensity of the sound pressure levels have auditory, extra auditory, and social effects that may be detrimental to the well being of mall patrons and the nature of their social relations. Using the West Edmonton mega mall (WEM) as a case study, it is shown through several patron questionnaires and


on-site sound pressure level measurements thatthere is a noise pollution problem inside the corridors of the mega‑mall.

A literature review of the potential effects of moderate sound‑level intensities supports the contention that mall management should re‑think their sonic strategy. Long-term solutions to the problem of indoor ambient noise pollution lie not simply in architectural and legislative measures, but in convincing the operators of WEM and other indoor public places of the potential economic benefits to be realized through noise abatement.

Environment and Behaviour, Vol. 26, No. 6, 785‑812, 1994. Link here.

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Entire contents © 2006 Right to Quiet Society. Cartoon © 1996 Right to Quiet Society

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