For the lesser-known type of pollution and associated health impacts.
The purpose of Protect PT’s Noise Monitoring Program is to identify baseline ambient noise levels of areas in close proximity to shale gas development. Following a baseline study, Protect PT will, to the best of our ability, conduct studies for each phase of development, including construction, drilling, and hydraulic fracturing. These studies, along with Protect PT’s will provide homeowners with information on the changes that occur in their neighborhood as a result of shale gas development. This data can be a valuable tool for local government, residents, and industry to mitigate potential nuisance and quality of life impacts from development.
The EPA defines Noise Pollution as, “Unwanted or Disturbing Sound. Sound becomes unwanted when it either interferes with normal activities such as sleeping, conversation or disrupts or diminishes one’s quality of life.” Protect PT’s noise study program has been developed with the help of audiologist Cynthia McCormick Richburg, Ph.D., Professor of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her previous studies have shown that while off-site noise levels around shale gas development are not enough to cause Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), there are impacts to the quality of life of those who live nearby. These findings are consistent with the findings of other researchers and the EPA. The quality of life impacts includes loss of sleep, increased stress, depression, and exacerbation of existing health problems such as an increase in cardiac events. The EPA states, “Noise pollution adversely affects the lives of millions of people. Studies have shown that there are direct links between noise and health. Problems related to noise include stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption, and lost productivity.”
According to the EPA, “levels of 55 decibels outdoors and 45 decibels indoors are identified as preventing activity interference and annoyance. These levels of noise are considered those which will permit spoken conversation and other activities such as sleeping, working, and recreation, which are part of the daily human condition”. Shale Gas Development Ambient Noise Study participants will receive final reports comparing this EPA recommendation to what has been measured during each study.