"Noises Are Harming Our Children's Development"
Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D.

How many people realize that children's rattles, squeaky animals, toy phones or even simple noisemakers may be damaging their young ears?    Nancy Nadler of the League for the Hard of Hearing  measured some toys as follows: rattles and squeaky toys as high as 110 decibels (110 dBA), toy phones as loud as 129 dBA, cap guns measured beyond 140 dBA, and toys producing firearm sounds at 150 dBA.  Since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets standards indicating that continued exposure to noise over 85 decibels (85dBA) may cause hearing loss, it becomes quite obvious that these toys are emitting sounds that are dangerously too loud. Yet, we have no standards in the United States to protect children from
these noisy toys.

The child's home is not as quiet as it should be.  Sometimes too many people are living in small, cramped apartments with little privacy and much noise.   Studies of children living in such homes, often in poorer neighborhoods, found that their language and cognitive development were slowed.  Noise, however,  is not confined to the homes of the poor. Children living in middle- and upper-class homes have many gadgets in their
households that give off sounds that are intrusive and disruptive: computers, stereo systems, television sets, vacuum cleaners.  Furthermore, to override these noisy devices, people end up speaking too loudly or shouting.

Many of our nation's communities are located near railroads, highways and airports.  Research has indicated that children living in homes or attending schools near these noisy sources may have higher blood pressure, a poorer quality of life, and lower reading scores.  Too many children  are living in the paths of noisy overhead jet planes and they are being deprived of an environment that is conducive to sound and healthy development.

Children need quiet homes to study, think,  read, and just relax. Quieter homes also allow for more conversation and better communication between parents and children.  Such interactions also serve to improve the relationships between parents and their children.

It is apparent that the noisy invader does not discriminate and cities, suburbs and rural communities are becoming noisier.  Since noise as an environmental issue has not yet taken center stage, this article is aimed at alerting readers that our children's development may be seriously impeded by the noises around them. Parents, educators, government officials, and all citizens must be warned that noise is hazardous to their children's health and well-being.  They then must join in to combat the growing noises around us.  Let us demand a quieter and healthier environment for our children and ourselves.  To learn more about noise, log onto the League for the Hard of Hearing's Website: www.lhh.org/noise.