How to Handle a Noise Complaint
Noise is a serious environmental and health hazard. Exposure to loud noise is one of the leading causes of hearing loss in the 38 million people with impaired hearing in the United States. Studies also correlate noise with a range of health problems including changes in sleep, digestion and blood pressure. Noise is also a leading quality of life complaint in many communities across the country. For example, in Los Angeles, the impact of the noise from leaf blowers has received national attention. And, noise was the leading complaint in New York City's Quality of Life Hot-Line with close to 70% of the calls related to noise.
The Noise Center receives complaints about noise from individuals and communities from around the world. Sources of noise which bother people include (but are not limited to):
- loud neighbors
- leaf blowers and other lawn equipment
- loud music, "boom cars"
- sirens, car alarms, horn honking
- barking dogs and other animals, jet skis, snowmobiles
If you are bothered by noise, consider these steps to resolve the problem:
- Go to the Source When possible, resolve the noise problem amicably. Discuss the situation with the noise maker, providing literature on the impacts of noise to support your claim. Find others nearby who may share your concerns. This will make your case stronger.
- Document the Problem Include the noise source, time, date and duration of the problem. It may also be helpful to have a sound level meter to measure the decibel level of the noise. Remember, though, that accurate readings which will "hold up in court" require sensitive equipment with a person specifically trained in noise measurement).
- Try Mediation If, after presenting your noise problem, you are not satisfied, consider mediation.
- Contact Authorities Contact your local Police Department, Department of Environmental Protection, City Council, Mayor's Office. Analyze your local community noise code to determine if a violation has occurred. Present ideas for revisions in the noise code if needed.
- Organize Your Own Anti-Noise Group In some cases, you will get best results if you create your own anti-noise organization. As a group, you may have more power in resolving the noise problem.
Remember, pay attention to the noise you make. Respect another person's right to peace and quiet and turn down the volume in your own activities.