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And you just don't know any practical method of reducing Novis whenever you get a big heavy plane going faster than sound. You are just certain to get a sonic boom. We've had a number of theoretical studies that are just getting underway now trying to eliminate a sonic boom or to minimize its effects. The purpose of the office of noise control is to get into all of the different areas like truck noise or any other kind of noise. So this is the problem you have that we are told that the noise is that we are suffering are the price of progress and this is the question that we are challenging and certainly we must debate noise pollution. One program in the series the circumstance of science exploring the forces of contemporary science and technology and their possible effects on society. Our country probably produces more noise and does less to reduce it than any other civilized nation in the world and noise promises to be a growing problem in the next decade. In this program we'll discuss the
facts and solutions to our noise problems including a look at two unique noise abatement organizations comments on the proposed supersonic transport and remarks from a congressman who has introduced a bill to limit noise. DR SAMUEL Rosen a famous air surgeon and researcher describes noise as a molester is explain for the American Medical Association what he thinks the nation will someday recognize as a chronic noise syndrome. Dr. Rosen is the chairman of the Board of New York's Citizens for a quieter city. We talked with Robert Alex Barron the executive vice president of the organization. Our organization operates on a very low and adequate budget. We are supported by a few individuals and a few small foundations have given us and how we have made no general appeal for
funds as yet. We hope to do so very soon. We spend our first year setting up a modus operandi getting a board of directors together an advisory board learning as much as we could about the problem and now we're ready to go ahead we're working on a movie on knowing is we're working on an advertising campaign too. He helped create an awareness because oddly enough one of the problems about noise is that most people don't hear it. I use here in quotes or maybe even literally. Many people don't hear the sounds of migrations that they are exposed to. And one of the problems with working in this area is to get the general public. Scientists doctors our Titian's to hear the noise and and give it a little respect and I'm very pleased incidentally that our board and our advisory board consists of people from all walks of life. One woman to cause yourself a housewife and a civic leader. We have an ecologist an
economist mentioned Dr. Rosen who was air surgeon on a dairy research or the president has drawn Nathan's and was a leader of the New York society for Ethical Culture which in a way is a religious organization. We have Cleveland Amory who was an author and commentator and director of the National Humane Society. We have an acoustical engineer not advisory board we have Dr. Brandt the president Rockefeller University. We have an executive secretary of Actors Equity Association was concerned with what Moyes is doing to the actor and to the audience if there is an appreciable decrease in hearing acuity. There is an economic stake there. We have several psychologists. And lawyers. People in the community communications the science editors of CBS and NBC the rector the same Thomas Church the rabbi of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. We believe that
religious leaders must take an interest in this problem because we are causing the terrible torment. And I think it must be stopped. What is the effect of noise on that. I wish I could give you a simple clear cut answer. Unfortunately there is no simple or clear cut answer for a very simple reason. We have not really addressed ourselves to that question. However there has been some work done. There have been some conjectures made by scientists and medical men who were in some way related to the field of noise in acoustics that enabled us to draw some conclusions. One of them is that you know I was under certain intensity
and given me the right amount of exposure will cause hearing loss. Now the question is is hearing Ross in the city in the community a problem. Well if you take a very strict interpretation of occupational hearing whilst you might be able to argue that it's not a problem. However it is a fact that we are getting many levels of noise in the city that are higher than the levels in the formula for damage risk in industry which is usually somewhere around with a car 85 decibels and the speech frequencies we had noise levels in our cities of 90 to 95 100 decibels. So the question is how much exposure is individual getting of that type of noise and what is it doing to its hearing. What are the primary contributors to the large or loud noise levels in New York City.
Scott speaking of loudness your main sources of loudness are your automobile horns. Your 95 decibels jackhammers your 95 100 decibels of air compressors which are the machines that give the jackhammer its pneumatic power your pile drivers your cranes ours construction equipment those living near airports of course you have jet noise trucks that are poorly muffled subways buses transportation I would say this as a general classification as another source of intense annoyance and to go down a scale you have household appliances blenders vacuum cleaners the list is endless and. But you raise a question of loudness I think that this is what we must not look upon now is as purely a loud sound because that is only one factor. When I talk about hearing loss that's only one aspect of what noise does feel. Noise are also mass speech which means that you can't hear warning signals you go
down a street and there's a great deal of noise. You won't be able to hear an approaching car or an approaching truck. If you have a lot of noise coming into your home or office you have to raise your voice. A telephone conversation is difficult. It is a fact that is getting to be a rare thing to be able to carry on a conversation on a city street. So speech interference is another thing that noise does. One of its negative qualities. Another thing a dozen affairs would sleep now. You know I didn't have to be necessarily loud again interfere with state or does it have to awaken you. Zip the sound of the mosquito. It's not many decibels but certainly you're not going to sleep very well if you hear a mosquito buzzing in your room. And I feel that the helicopters in the short takeoff and landing planes that we are starting to permit over congested city is similar to losing
or letting loose a beehive. And it's going to cause a terrible problem as far as the nervous systems of people is concerned. And these sounds are not in one sense lounge but they aren't intrusive. They are psychologically disturbing and you can't shut off your your hearing apparatus I mean Dr. Rosen makes that point we don't have here it's like eyelids and even when you're asleep you hear the sounds and we have seen with work with and separate graphs that sound does cause an effect on the brain. Even if you don't wake up and we are doing nothing in the cities to control these disturbing sounds. Robert Alex Barron executive vice president of Citizens for a quieter city in New York. Another noise abatement organization has its specific objective. The opposition of the US government's program to construct the ass nasty supersonic transport. The group is called Citizens
League against the sonic boom and its director Harvard physicist William a sheer cliff believes the sonic boom was created by the aircraft will be intolerable and will destroy the peace of millions of Americans. The government is putting up one point two billion dollars to finance 90 percent of the development cost. Therefore the government has a vested interest in the planed successful development and leading the defenders of the ss t is the Federal Aviation Agency. The fears of the Citizens League against the boom are based primarily on the assumption that the aircraft will disrupt and damage the lives of millions of Americans. There are many fundamental questions to the debate. One is has there been any promising research on reducing the intensity or duration of the boom. Dr. short laugh there's been a lot of hard work going on for many many years and we have friends right in the SEC about sonic boom research and they tell me there is no solution in sight in fact no I haven't you know promising avenue
of research insight. They really are at a dead end on this and they see no hope of making any real improvement in the foreseeable future. And there are no plans to incorporate noise reducing methods into the SSD design itself. And I just don't know of any practical method of reducing noways whenever you get a big heavy plane going faster than sound. You were just certain to get a sonic boom. We've had a number of theoretical studies that. Are just getting underway now trying to eliminate a sonic boom or to minimize its effects. Isaac Hoover Director of the office of noise abatement of the Federal Aviation Agency in addition to this. There has been a very extensive effort by the Boeing company to try to minimize the effects of the boom on this particular aircraft that were sponsoring the development of. But. It's difficult to hold out much hope that we will significantly lower the boom levels of this aircraft we're developing right now.
There is one theoretical approach that the Lockheed company and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have. Have looked at fairly carefully and are researching now this concept using what we'd call an exponential cross-sectional area development would result in reducing the boom levels to about two thirds of what today's airplane is. But we're still not sure that this would be acceptable. And we're not at all sure that this type of an aircraft would be suitable for regular commercial service. Has the FAA established tolerable levels for sonic booms or is this desirable. We researched various efforts of the sonic boom for something like five years now. To date we're still unable to establish what we'd call tolerable levels for sonic booms. I think it would be a good. Point to read one paragraph out of an AGW report from last summer.
To try to put this in context because part of the difficulty in establishing a tolerable level relates to its relationship to other levels of tolerability. This paragraph states that and individually acceptable amount of water pollution added to a tolerable amount of air pollution added to a bearable amount of noise and congestion can produce a totally unacceptable health environment. Just pulling one of these. Pollutants out of context and trying to establish a level gets a little bit difficult to do objectively. We believe it is desirable to establish acceptable levels of Sonic Boom intensity for two reasons. One we have to establish a criteria on which restrictions on supersonic flight operations can be based and we believe someday we will have a domestic supersonic service so we have to establish design requirements for these future aircraft.
How much will those sonic booms and noise generated by the ss t affect me and how will they affect me. Well they won't often wake up sleeping people. And by the way we must contemplate having these SS t's flying across the country by night as well as by day of God. They wake up sleeping people. They can cause children babies to be frightened and to cry. They can make nearly anybody jump. They can make nervous people terribly startled producing a sudden increase in the heartbeat rate. They cause all kinds of secondary symptoms. The medical men use terms like visceral sentiments and others that I've forgotten now. If they were trivial things like maybe a man's climbing a ladder and the boom comes he might give a big jump and might fall off the ladder. You can also imagine a hot patient who supposed to keep very quiet never get startled if you
startle terribly by one of these booms. They come you know almost instantly almost explode like an explosion. This might I suppose kill a heart patient. Will the ss t fly over land. It's a problem that's kind of difficult to answer right now. I. I think that the predominance of our research to date shows that it's unlikely that we'd have any extensive supersonic operation over inhabited land areas of the globe. But you must understand that there are large land areas that are uninhabited in a relative sense at least the Sahara desert the continent of Australia. Both of the polar areas in northern Canada are quite a number of places we could fly its over sonic speeds without causing any significant to adverse reaction. AJ Evans the director of Sonic Boom research for NASA's been quoted as saying I
think it's becoming obvious that the sonic boom will probably be unacceptable over land. But Major General Maxwell head of the FAA s s s t program says. I suspect there are land areas that will be permitted to overfly the big question to many people is will the SSD fly over land. While I've written many times about this and when they say they might well fly over unpopulated land I. Well I actually wrote them saying would you give me some examples of some definition of what you mean by unpopulated land. And you won't believe it but they wrote back saying unpopulated land is land that is not populated. And I don't think that helps very much. I think they're really not made it clear where they will I will not. I sincerely think they are trying to give the impression to aviation people that probably it will fly over land and try to give the impression to reactionary people like me that it will not fly over land.
Will the US s t be profitable if it serves banned from flying over land areas. Our economic studies that were made before the decision to build the aircraft that was made showed that it could be an economic success and that basically the project would break even at some 300 aircraft if the aircraft is restricted to overwater flight only then the market still is some 500 aircraft. If there were any extensive flight over land the market for the aircraft could jump as high as 200 aircraft. So we see that it will be a success even if it's restricted from a supersonic flight over inhabited areas that we have an economic consideration here and that is will the ss t be profitable if it's banned from flying over land. I think not. Again the best report written says that if it is banned from flying over land it will. It will fail very poorly indeed.
You'll have to charge much higher figures. And then they will just will not get the traffic to really justify selling all and very few like one of possibly 200. Critics also point to the damage that was done in Oklahoma City at 964 when the Air Force was testing the boom there. Can we expect the same sort of effects from the SSD. The FAA has sponsored a number of test programs to try to define what we call a threshold of damage from sonic booms. The test at Oklahoma City were the first efforts to try to do this more extensive programs were conducted at White Sands and at Edwards Air Force Base. The SSD will create sonic booms which will not damage the sound structure. However structures which are badly pre-stressed and ready to fail from any one of a number of triggering effects will fail at projected s s t sonic boom intensity defining what types
of failure can be triggered by sonic booms is a very difficult task. I suspect that most sonic boom damage results from booms magnified by the atmosphere or by the topography it magnifications occur over very small and widely scattered areas. There's no doubt the effects will be worse with the SSP. The Oklahoma boom has averaged around one point two pounds per square foot. And as you can read in the official reports of those tests. Whereas the ss t is going to produce about a 60 percent greater Bloom intensity they will and should be worse and I think do more damage to buildings and be more annoying to people. Dr. William a Shurtleff director of the Citizens League against the sonic boom and Isaac Hoover Director of the office of noise abatement of the Federal Aviation Agency. In some cases the public has been successful in bringing suit against those responsible for excessive noise. But perhaps the classic case of an attempt to legally limit
noise is that of the Town of Hempstead the residents of this community were subjected to the sounds of planes from Kennedy Airport at a rate of one every minute and a half to two minutes during peak hours. The residents got so mad that they ultimately passed a city ordinance to control the noise. They got action but not exactly what they planned. Ten major airlines sued the city and the FAA joined the suit as plaintiffs against the city of Hempstead. We asked Robert Alex Barron of Citizens for a quieter city. Why the FAA objected to the city's ordinance. The federal government. I forget the year this was passed. Has preempted air space in other words the city that is apparently has no jurisdiction of the air space or what is known as a navigable airspace. And this is why the FAA objected because the FAA as the government agency
responsible for navigable airspace couldn't tolerate a municipality intruding into that area of responsibility. That's the technical reason as a matter of fact. The judge in his ruling said that the ordinance of the towne of him said is invalid. The legislation operates in an area committed to federal care and noise limiting rules operating as to those of the ordinance must come from a federal source close quote. Now this should be carried to the Supreme Court because you have an interesting issue here. The judge admitted that the jet planes flying low in their takeoffs and landings over the town of Hempstead was disturbing people who were in hospitals was keeping people from sleeping was interfering with classroom studies. In other words he admitted as credible evidence the negative aspects of the jet noise. But then he said in a in 88 page finding a fact it
was very interesting and because this kind of thinking is one reason it's so noisy is going to get noisier. And as an organization like ours can succeed in a breakthrough and I quote from this 88 page finding a fact. There is credible evidence that the noise of an aircraft or flight in Hamstead is frequently intense enough to interrupt sleep conversation and to conduct a religious service isn't to submerge for the duration of the maximum noise part of the overflight the sound of radio phonograph and television. Close quote. And then he also said and I quote this from a newspaper report. It could interrupt classroom activities in schools and be a source of discomfort to the ego and distraction to the wound. Now. What is interesting is that in spite of these things that jet noise was doing to human beings he said quote The disadvantage to the inhabitants of the defendant town from continuance of the operation Kennedy Airport and substantially the president the present basis is outweighed by the
advantages to the total social interest in the continued operation of Kennedy Airport and its present legal framework. Close quote. So this is the problem you have that we are told that the noises that we are suffering are the price of progress. And this is the question that we are challenging and certainly we must debate because we can't afford to have our environment destroyed by a step or statement by the noisemaker and not help apparently by the chords that this is the price of progress. And you must take even damage to your house as that price not in a day and age when technology and science can take us to the moon. Air transportation is an industry and industrialized limits exist in all major cities. Having an industrial noise Isaac hoover up the airports in the past been traditionally immune from these industrial noise limits. Primarily because it's technically an economically
impractical to comply with the normal industrial noise levels people who live near large airports expect relatively high noise exposure and if they wish to move away from the noise there's always someone ready to buy their property since it's convenience to the large airport employment is a very desirable feature. If someone wishes to sue on the basis that their property has been depreciated by the noise or that they cannot enjoy full use of their property in the past they have generally sued the airport operator or the airlines. Sometimes both. How are we going to solve our noise problems. Congressman Theodore comes from an who represents New York City has proposed a measure to create a federal office of noise control. The purpose of the bill is to set up a comprehensive approach to the problem of what I call noise pollution. We have so many different areas for noise and yet so little is being done about it. And I would hope that we would
not allow the matter to get out of hand in the same way that water pollution and air pollution got out of hand. And at the present time most of what's being done in the noise field is in the area of an airport airplane noise and I think that the problem goes much beyond that. And I thought that the best place to have the control over the question would be in the Surgeon General's office and a specific office of noise control. What are some of the provisions for this measure. Well there will be a small appropriation of three million dollars small by normal standards here in Washington and there will be studies made and an opportunity for all of those interested in noise to come together to consider what can be done on the subject. For example one thing that might be done would be to have a model building coal appropriate so that an area which is not in a position to look into the
question of what I call the noise slums of the future the buildings that are going up at the present time which while they have the proper tensile strength in the material for sound construction don't do anything about the sound that may come through the walls and very few localities have in their building code requirements anything to do with noise. And it might be difficult for it to be drafted. So you might do a model one that could be sent to the various localities other things that could be done is an analysis of zoning ordinances so that. Something might be prepared with respect to airports and having surrounding open areas so that there would not be an interference with normal living. And also something on the question of variances because many times you'll have a zoning ordinance which says no building with a certain number of feet from an airport. And then they immediately get exceptions because of the need for housing and something got to be done about that and the purpose of the office of noise control is
to get into all of the different areas like truck noise or any other kind of noise. So then this bill if it were passed and this office were incorporated within the surgeon general's office would give us a starter on our way to doing something significant about noise pollution. Well it would probably be more than a starter because. They would have the expertise to really move on the question. And this is certainly necessary. Do you have a report for us on the progress of the bill. Well I'm getting out a great deal of interest in it. It's run anywhere from Women's Wear Daily to the Los Angeles Times. I've just written an article for The Nation cities on the subject. I spoke at the Acoustical Society of America and American Medical Jurisprudence society on the need for the burial. And there's a great deal of support around the country. Mr. Brown of Citizens for a quieter city feels that the cost for making our cities
quieter are not prohibitive especially when compared with potential damage to the human environment. Here's something that's wonderful news. The garbage truck consists of two things the truck in the compactor Ponty. Total package I think is somewhere like $25000. We are getting a quieter garbage truck. That is the chassis the engine and the compactor body and I think the total thing is coming to an increase not increase of about four or five hundred dollars. Oh I don't think that's a back breaking increase in cost for a truck which not only is going to be quieter it's going to have a cleaner engine as far as air pollution is concerned. It is perhaps ironic all to know that the U.S. government this year will spend considerably more on the development of the supersonic transport than on the problems of air pollution. You've been listening to the fifth program in the series the circumstance of science exploring the forces of contemporary science and technology and their possible
effects on society. You're invited to be with us for our next program dealing with the risks and the benefits of modern drugs. Representatives of the medical profession government and industry will discuss their concern for control methods and safety standards in the development and use of new drugs. A transcript of this program is available without charge from W. K. our Michigan State University East Lansing. This series is prepared under a grant from the Louis W. and Maude Hill Family Foundation of St. Paul Minnesota produced by Steve muse shave for Michigan State University Radio. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
The circumstance of science
Episode Number
Episode 5 of 13
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Michigan State University
WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-23-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:29:48
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