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Addressing Noise Pollution

Mathias Basner's Talk on Noise is Set on the Level of the Individual

— February 13, 2019 — Keynote Trends
Mathias Basner — who is a sleep and noise researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, delivers a talk on noise that details how the phenomenon hinders human health, how quiet spaces are inherently important and what one can do about addressing the auditory discrepancy in the very volume-heavy environment of urbanized society.

Basner identifies noise as an “unwanted sound” that has “a physical […] and a psychological component.” It is common knowledge that when one experiences ringing in one's ears after a concert, for example, there is damage done to the organ. The speaker’s talk on noise ultimately connects the auditory experience to have a few possibly irreversible effects on health and interpersonal relationships. For one, noise is disruptive in its essence and hence, can harbor detrimental consequences for education and communication. Additionally, long exposures to it are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease — from high blood pressure to heart attacks and strokes. Sleep disturbance is also frequently linked to noise which is not surprising since “the auditory system has a watchman function” that “constantly monitors our environments for threats” even when one is sleeping. It is easy to imagine how excessive noise can negatively impact one's sleep patterns but it is important to note that one is often unaware of “noise-induced sleep disturbances, because [one] is unconscious.”

The talk on noise goes on to elaborate a few tactics of addressing noisy environments in sustainable ways that will be beneficial to wellness. Mathias Basner encourages individuals to speak up if it is too loud. He gives an example of a loud movie theatre. He pleas parents to educate their children about the consequences of listening to loud music and picking a quiet room in the house that is away from the road. He also advises individuals to opt in for noise-canceling earphones when traveling. Essentially, the speaker urges the audience to be mindful of noise pollution and to factor in the health-hindering phenomenon in their decision-making processes.