Elkhart County, Indiana, Begins to Address Noise as a Public Health Challenge

From the  Elkhart  Truth   this month.

From the Elkhart Truth this month.

Elkhart County, in northern Indiana, has begun a broad effort to address noise issues of all sorts. According to a new story by Jordan Fouts of the Elkhart Truth, public-health concerns about hearing loss are a principal force behind this change:

“There are health effects from noise, there’s no question about that,” said Lydia Mertz, Elkhart County health officer. 

In addition to more obvious forms of harm, like hearing loss or tinnitus, she said continuous noise above 65 decibels can have a range of other effects, including increased stress and anxiety levels, higher blood pressure and sleep disturbances. 

“It’s true that loud noises will lead to hearing loss, and anything over 70 dB will lead to a problem,” she said. “In big cities, you often reach decibels of 75. It’s really not good for your ears.”... 

It’s not something you just build up a tolerance to, either, she said. Any damage that happens is permanent.

“We do have a lot more hearing loss than we used to, and I think we will have a lot more of that,” Mertz said. “When cells (in the ear) are damaged, once they’re permanently damaged, they are not going to come back.”

Read more from the whole story. Congratulations to the leaders and people of Elkhart County, for realizing that ambient-noise issues are a serious public health concern, and one not confined to the biggest cities or the wealthiest suburbs.  (And by the way, support your local publications -- from the Elkhart Truth, to the Redlands (Ca.) Daily Facts.)