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The Unequal Burden of Noise

first_imgMost Americans think of cities as noisy places — but some parts of U.S. cities are much louder than others. Nationwide, neighborhoods with higher poverty rates and proportions of black, Hispanic, and Asian residents have higher noise levels than other neighborhoods. In addition, in more racially segregated cities, living conditions are louder for everyone, regardless of their race or ethnicity.As environmental health researchers, we are interested in learning how everyday environmental exposures affect different population groups. In a new study we detail our findings on noise pollution, which has direct impacts on public health.Scientists have documented that environmental hazards, such as air pollution and hazardous waste sites, are not evenly distributed across different populations. Often socially disadvantaged groups such as racial minorities, the poor, and those with lower levels of educational attainment experience the highest levels of exposure. These dual stresses can represent a double jeopardy for vulnerable populations. Mapping city soundsIn 2015 we stumbled across a Smithsonian Magazine post about the National Park Service sound map. The sound estimates are meant to represent average noise levels during a summer day or night. They rely on 1.5 million hours of sound measurements across 492 locations, including urban areas and national forests, and modeling based on topography, climate, and human activity. National Park Service colleagues shared their model and collaborated on our study.By linking the noise model to national U.S. population data, we made some interesting discoveries. First, in both rural and urban areas, affluent communities were quieter. Neighborhoods with median annual incomes below $25,000 were nearly 2 decibels louder than neighborhoods with incomes above $100,000 per year. And nationwide, communities with 75% black residents had median nighttime noise levels of 46.3 decibels — 4 decibels louder than communities with no black residents. A 10-decibel increase represents a doubling in loudness of a sound, so these are big differences. FHB: The Quest for a Quiet Room FHB: Quiet, PleaseInterior Walls and Floor FramingQ&A: How do I Soundproof a Bedroom?SonicLQ: Reconnecting Acoustics and Airtightness Curbing noise pollutionThe U.S. government has done relatively little to regulate noise levels since 1981, when Congress abruptly stopped funding the Noise Control Act of 1972. However, Congress did not repeal the law, so states had to assume responsibility for noise control. Few states have tried, and there has been scant progress. For example, in 2013-2014 New York City received one noise complaint about every four minutes.Without funding, noise research has proven difficult. Until recently the United States did not even have up-to-date nationwide noise maps. In contrast, multiple European countries have mapped noise, and the European Commission funds noise communication plans, abatement, and health studies.A highway noise barrier in Croatia.In 2009 the World Health Organization released a report detailing nighttime noise guidelines for Europe. They recommended reducing noise levels when possible and reducing the impact of noise when levels could not be moderated. For example, the guidelines recommended locating bedrooms on the quiet sides of houses, away from street traffic, and keeping nighttime noise levels below 40 decibels to protect human health. The agency encouraged all member states to strive for these levels in the long term, with a short-term goal of 55 decibels at night.Nonetheless, inequalities in exposure to noise still exist in Europe. For example, in Wales and Germany, poorer individuals have reported more neighborhood noise.The most successful U.S. noise reduction efforts have centered on the airline industry. Driven by the introduction of new, more efficient and quieter engines and promoted by the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990, the number of Americans affected by aviation noise declined by 95% between 1975 and 2000.Moving forward, our findings suggest that more research is needed for studies on the relationship between noise and population health in the United States — data that could inform noise regulations. Funding and research should focus on poorer communities and communities of color that appear to bear a disproportionate burden of environmental noise. Our research shows that like air pollution, noise exposure may follow a similar social gradient. This unequal burden may, in part, contribute to observed health disparities across diverse groups in the United States and elsewhere. By Joan Casey, Peter James, and Rachel Morello-Froschcenter_img RELATED ARTICLES Joan Casey is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Peter James is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Rachel Morello-Frosch is a professor of environmental science at the University of California, Berkeley. This post originally appeared at The Conversation. Segregated communities are louderWe also found higher noise levels in more racially segregated metropolitan areas, such as Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Trenton, and Memphis. This relationship affected all members of these communities. For example, noise levels in communities made up entirely of white Americans in the least segregated metropolitan areas were nearly 5 decibels quieter than all-white neighborhoods in the most segregated metropolitan areas.Segregation in U.S. metropolitan areas is a process that spatially binds communities of color and working-class residents through the concentration of poverty, lack of economic opportunity, exclusionary housing development, and discriminatory lending policies. But why would even all-white neighborhoods in highly segregated cities be noisier than those elsewhere? Although we did not find conclusive evidence, we believe this happens because in highly segregated cities, political power is often unequally distributed along racial, ethnic, and economic lines.These power differences may empower some residents to manage undesirable land uses in ways that are beneficial to them — for example, by forcing freeway construction through poorer communities. This scenario can lead to higher levels of environmental hazards overall than would occur if power and the burdens of development were more equally spread across the community.Segregation can also physically separate neighborhoods, workplaces, and basic services, forcing all residents to drive more and commute farther. These conditions can increase air pollution and, potentially, metro-wide noise levels for everyone. Why worry about noise?A growing body of evidence links noise from a variety of sources, including air, rail and road traffic, and industrial activity, to adverse health outcomes. Studies have found that kids attending school in louder areas have more behavioral problems and perform worse on exams. Adults exposed to higher noise levels report higher levels of annoyance and sleep disturbances.Scientists theorize that since evolution programmed the human body to respond to noises as threats, noise exposures activate our natural flight-or-fight response. Noise exposure triggers the release of stress hormones, which can raise our heart rates and blood pressure even during sleep. Long-term consequences of these reactions include high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and lower birth weight.As with other types of pollution, multiple factors help explain why some social groups are more exposed to noise than others. Factors include weak enforcement of regulations in marginalized neighborhoods, lack of capacity to engage in land use decisions, and environmental policies that fail to adequately protect vulnerable communities. This may lead to siting of noise-generating industrial facilities, highways, and airports in poorer communities.last_img read more

Don’t let ex-servicemen who settled after China war contest rural polls: Arunachal tribe

first_imgA tribal students’ organisation in Arunachal Pradesh has asked Pema Khandu’s BJP-ruled government to stop retired Assam Rifles personnel, settled in the State’s Changlang district after the Chinese attack in 1962, from contesting the panchayat polls.The reasons cited are: The ex-servicemen as non-APST (Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribe) did not deserve to contest the panchayat polls in the first place and have been settled on land whose lease ends in 2020.The rural polls in Arunachal Pradesh was to have been announced after the term of the last panchayat ended on April 13. But it has been delayed due to a change in structure of the Panchayati Raj institution from three-tier to two-tier in the State.“In 1962, some 200 retired Assam Rifles personnel and their families were settled in Vijaynagar circle under Changlang district on land leased out to them. Despite being non-APST, they were unethically made eligible to contest the panchayat polls,” Ngwazosa Yobin, president of All Yobin Students’ Union (AYSU) said.The ex-servicemen, he said, should no longer be allowed to contest the rural polls since the lease on the land expires in a little more than two years from now.The Yobins, the predominant tribe in Vijaynagar area, call the place Daodi. Vijaynagar, a valley bordering Myanmar, was named after the son of Assam Rifles inspector general AS Guraya whose team had first reached the area in 1961.‘Against the rules’According to the AYSU, letting the ex-servicemen contest the rural polls is against the provisions of the 73rd Amendment related to Panchayati Raj as well as the Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act of 1997 that are “basically for empowerment of local people.”But the ex-servicemen are deriving the benefits and rights meant for local people. The retired Assam Rifles settlers can contest the 17 Gram chairperson, three Anchal Samity member and one Anchal chairperson posts.The AYSU also fears being outnumbered by the ex-servicemen, whose number has increased to more than 2,000.The ex-uniformed settlers have trashed the AYSU’s contention. The Vijaynagar-based All Settlers’ Welfare Association, Gorkha Development Society and Gorkha Youth Committee have in a joint statement said there are separate panchayat voting systems for two groups — ex-servicemen and Yobins — on the basis of geographical variations and ethnicity.The three organisations claimed there is no competition within the two groups at the grassroots level. “Panchayati Raj was introduced in Vijaynagar in 1975, and ex-Assam Rifles man Lal Bir Gurung was the first Panch Pradhan of Vijaynagar Circle. He held the post till 1980, after which the Panchayati Raj system remained defunct across Arunachal Pradesh,” the statement said.No roadThe AYSU criticised the government for not constructing a road from Vijaynagar to Miao, the nearest well-connected town of Changlang district 157 km away. Miao is close to Arunachal Pradesh’s border with Assam.The road project was sanctioned in 2011 for an estimated ₹145 crore. But officials say it might never materialise, as much of the 157 km stretch is through the 1,985 sq km Namdapha National Park, a tiger reserve.“People of Vijaynagar still lack basic facilities such as electricity and hospital besides a road. As a result, people have to trek for four-five days to reach the nearest equipped town,” Ngwazosa Yobin said.Porters use the stretch through the tiger reserve to carry essential commodities on their heads. The porterage increases the prices of these commodities by 400-750%. For instance, a kilo of sugar costing ₹50 sells at ₹200, while a kilo of salt priced ₹20 is charged ₹150 at Vijaynagar.The only mode of communication for people of Vijaynagar with the world beyond is an infrequent Indian Air Force chopper service, which is dictated by weather conditions.last_img read more

Hierro: No regrets for Spain after Lopetegui exit

first_imgSpain No regrets – Hierro looking ahead with Spain following Lopetegui saga Harry West 01:57 6/14/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) FernandoHierro - Cropped Getty Images Spain World Cup Portugal v Spain Portugal The former Madrid enforcer has stepped into the breach at short notice after Lopetegui’s shock departure two days before their World Cup debut Fernando Hierro says there is no time for Spain to lament their pre-World Cup plans being left in disarray by the shock dismissal of Julen Lopetegui.The Royal Spanish Football Federation announced on Wednesday, the eve of the finals, that Lopetegui had been sacked, just 24 hours after it was confirmed he would take over at Real Madrid following the tournament.Hierro, a former captain of La Roja whose international career spanned from 1989 to 2002, has assumed the reins for the World Cup, where Spain must first tackle a Group B consisting of Portugal, Iran and Morocco. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Sorry, Cristiano! Pjanic is Juventus’ most important player right now Arsenal would be selling their soul with Mourinho move And the retired defender insists that rather than rue their chaotic preparations, the 2010 winners must move on swiftly, with Cristiano Ronaldo and the reigning European champions looming as their opening test in Sochi on Friday.”The players are excited, they want this challenge, it’s a challenge for everyone, we do not have time to regret,” he told a media conference.”We have to be positive, opinions are not valid here, we have to turn the page, be positive, think about the players in the squad and what we represent.”We came to fight for the World Cup, the team is excited, we have a great opportunity and that must be the focus.Concluye la conferencia de prensa de @LuisRubiales y Fernando Hierro.En breve, todos los detalles en https://t.co/MQK8u6xmU5 y https://t.co/3KBWvvLGuH pic.twitter.com/A1PlQpR5RU— RFEF (@rfef) June 13, 2018″I know that they are going to give up their soul and give 100 per cent in a World Cup … we all know what this means. The response I’ve received is fantastic, it’s a united group, they know their goals.”We have the obligation to think that we have a great opportunity, we need the work and dedication of the whole world … we are going to try with all our strength.”Hierro, a five-time La Liga winner as well a European champion on three occasions with Madrid, offered his best wishes to Lopetegui.”My highest admiration for Julen Lopetegui. I wish you the best of luck,” he said.”When the president told me about the possibility, there were two or three alternatives: one was to say no, the other was to leave, the third was to be here to take a step forward for the federation and for Spanish football.”last_img read more

At ComicCon Pennyworth serves up secret societies and a smidge of torture

first_img Tags More Comic-Con 2019 The very best cosplay we saw at Comic-Con 2019 In a room surrounded by bars, with what looks like an electric chair in the middle, a constable asks me if I know anything about the Raven Society. I don’t. Secret societies aren’t really my thing. But I’m told if you download the Epix app, you earn admission to this mysterious organization. He says if I’m lying there will be consequences. Another one says, “Either way there will be consequences.”Ain’t that the truth. “As a side note, it’s also a photo opportunity,” the first one adds. I watch as groups of people pretend like they’ve just been torturing each other and having a ball doing it. Having flown through Chicago Midway Airport last week, I’ve had my fill of torture. As one group exits and another takes its place, I zip out to the exit, past a red phone booth and back into 2019 San Diego. Comic-Con Pennyworth’s world is posh but dangerous.  Erin Carson/CNET The tray of utensils — the kind that would come in handy if you were trying to extract information from someone — was the first clue I wasn’t just hanging around a yet another dimly lit, posh-looking bar. The tray were sitting by a cot, in a dark little room hidden behind a bookcase housing books, pictures and an assortment of decorative knick-knacks, all meant to evoke 1960s London. img-2544 Erin Carson/CNET Or at least, a certain part of 1960s London. This isn’t exactly Carnaby Street. I’m out at San Diego Comic-Con and this interactive experience mixing booze and intrigue is a promotion for Pennyworth, a show from DC Comics, airing son on Epix. Pennyworth tells the backstory of Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred, best known as Bruce Wayne’s childhood caretaker, butler and confidant, is portrayed in the show as a young man and former British SAS soldier, who creates a security company with Bruce’s dad, Thomas. Pennyworth, which premieres on July 28, isn’t the first show to dig into the pre-Batman world. Fox’s Gotham, which ended in April after five seasons, followed Jim Gordon, who goes on to become Gotham’s police commissioner, as well as Bruce Wayne as a boy and a middle-aged Alfred. At SDCC, Batman is an even more distant figure. There’s talk of secret societies called the Raven Society and the No Name Society. Constables are looking for information on them, and attendees are poking around the plush furniture, black jack table, post card station and, you know, torture dungeon.  Post a commentcenter_img 0 Stan Lee sang to me: 10 crazy Comic-Con moments I’ll never forget Comic-Con at 50: From hotel basement to massive cultural blowout First-time SDCC cosplay is terrifying, complicated and exhilarating 62 Photos Share your voice TV and Movieslast_img read more

Two Houston School Board Incumbents Seek Reelection Two Others Step Down

Two Houston School Board Incumbents Seek Reelection Two Others Step Down

first_img Share Laura Isensee/Houston Public MediaIn October, Trustee Diana Davila issued an apology to the community on behalf of the Houston school board, for how they’ve behaved over the last 10 months.The slate of candidates is set for the Houston school board elections in November, even as a state-appointed board of managers is looking more likely due to governance issues and chronic low test scores at one high school.Of the four seats up for election, two incumbents — Diana Davila representing District VIII and Sergio Lira in District III — are running for another term.  But two other trustees, Rhonda Skillern-Jones and Jolanda Jones in Districts II and IV respectively, have decided to step down and not run for another term. In all, 11 candidates are vying for those open seats: seven in District II and four in District IV.Mark Jones, a political professor with Rice University, said that might not be enough turnover to avoid a state takeover of the entire nine-member board.“If in the end the level of renewal is only two seats, I doubt that has much effect on the overall function of the board and probably more importantly does not change the vision of the board in the eyes in the state of Texas government and the eyes of the TEA in particular,” Jones said.The beleaguered board is subject to a special investigation by the Texas Education Agency, whose top investigator has recommended that the state’s Education Commissioner, Mike Morath, replace the elected board with an appointed board of managers. Separately, the HISD board of trustees could be removed and replaced with appointed governors because one high school, Wheatley, recently had its seventh failing grade in a row. A state law mandates that a school be closed or a school board be replaced if a campus fails state standards for five or more years.Another HISD trustee, Elizabeth Santos, has announced she’s exploring a run for the Texas House to replace state Rep. Jessica Farrar, a Houston Democrat, but isn’t required to resign in order to campaign.Despite the threat of a state takeover, the elections will move forward, according to TEA’s rules. If the commissioner does appoint his own board of mangers, those governors would schedule new elections as they transition back to an elected board. In that scenario, recently elected HISD officials could assume their powers and serve out the remainder of their terms, if there is any time left during that transition. HISD trustees serve four-year terms; state-appointed board of managers have typically served between two and five years in other Texas districts.Jones said that Davila and Lira may be more vulnerable than typical incumbents because of the allegations in the state’s investigation, but considered them still the favorites as incumbents. They each face only one challenger: Judith Cruz in District VIII and Dani Hernandez in District III. What’s more, Jones said, is that the Houston mayoral race and City Council elections in November could drown out attention from the school board races.For the open seats, Jones said the real battle is to get into a run-off.He said while the general public may not be very attuned to the controversies swirling around the board — from secret meetings to free meals — the looming potential state takeover could have dampened a more robust challenge against either Davila or Lira.“There’s a sense of why bother — Why go out and work really hard? Why incur the wrath of incumbents and the special interests that support them if in the end, all that’s going to happen is a board of managers is going to take over?” Jones said.last_img read more