Author Archives: Nigel Rodgers

Local and global: new Pipedown groups formed

In Australia Warren  Fahey, who is  well-known in the musical world,  has set up a splendid new website pipedown.ne for Pipedown Australia. Anyone living in or ever visiting Australia who detests piped music should contact him through it or directly at wfahey@bigpond.net.au

In the USA  the Ann Arbor, Michigan group, with its fine new website, has been getting noticed in the local and national media. See http://quietannarbor.org

Meanwhile in London Carol Caplan has held the first meeting of Pipedown London.  She is planning to leaflet concert-goers at the Proms Season at the Albert Hall  this summer, realising that lovers of real music freely chosen are among those most likely to hate the unwanted piped sort. Do support her by offering to help leaflet on some evenings – this should only  take at most 30 minutes.  Or make other suggestions. Her email address is pipedown@ossian.me.uk

In Germany Lauchsprecheraus! is now under new guidance and continues to combat piped music in Germany. See   pipedown.de/

 

The address for Pipedown UK’s HQ remains  newpipedown@btinternet.com

 

 

Noise Exposure Linked to Heart Disease, Strokes and Diabetes

A  review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology,  reports that  high levels of noise are very bad for your heart. A connection between noise pollution and cardiovascular disease has been observed in numerous studies over the years,  the review said. High noise levels from road traffic and aircraft are connected to high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke and heart failure even after allowing for other factors like air pollution and socioeconomic status.

But despite growing  evidence, little is known about how noise pollution contributes to heart problems. To shed light on that question, researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany compiled and analysed findings from dozens of previous studies on noise and various health outcomes.

Their new review suggests that noise disrupts the body at the cellular level. Researchers say it induces stress responses and activates the sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system. This causes a spike in stress hormones, which eventually lead to cardiovascular damage. Noise is  is a driving factor in oxidative stress and metabolic abnormalities which contribute to other diseases like diabetes. For people with risk factors for cardiovascular disease, living in a noisy environment could accelerate atherosclerosis.

“The important point is that noise is not just annoying,” lead author Dr. Thomas Munzel, director of the department of internal medicine, said. While his paper focuses largely on cardiovascular and metabolic implications of noise, he points to the growing evidence that chronic noise can  cause mental health problems (including depression and anxiety), and can harm children’s cognitive development.

One way noise pollution affects heart health is by disrupting sleep. In studies, night time noise has been linked to an increase in blood pressure,  even when people didn’t wake up or even realise their sleep had been disrupted. ‘You can can close your eyes but not your ears,” Munzel said. ‘Our body will always react with a stress reaction.’

Even chronic noise during the day will  have major effects on the body, said Dr. James O’Keefe, a cardiologist at the Mid America Heart Institute, Saint Luke’s Hospital, in Kansas City. ‘When we’re exposed to loud noises, the sympathetic nervous system dominates,” said O’Keefe, who was not involved in the new review. “That can really put your system on alert and makes you jumpy, which can wear down your resilience — just like any other type of physical or mental stress.” O’Keefe said that, as a cardiologist who focuses on prevention, he’s read a lot about the connection between noise pollution and heart health. “But I don’t really think it’s something the average physician or cardiologist is particularly tuned into,” he said. Munzel said people in cities around the world should worry about noise pollution, and that the problem is getting worse. “It is important to note that no one can develop tolerance to noise,” he said, despite what many  believe. In fact, people’s cardiovascular systems actually seem to become more sensitive to noise — and so more easily damaged — over time.

While there’s no volume threshold established for heart-disease risk, Munzel said that chronic exposure to anything over 60 decibels (the level of a typical conversation in an office) has the potential to harm the cardiovascular system. A telephone ringing produces about 80 decibels, a jackhammer 100, and an aircraft at takeoff a 120.

Most background music is between 80 and 90 decibels, well over the threshold at which damage to the cardiovascular system has been observed if below that at which damage to hearing becomes apparent. 

“I hope that in future politicians will make laws that protect the people from environmental stressors,” he said. A reduction in overall noise pollution, he said, “will be a factor that can be influenced by politicians only and not by patients and doctors.’

 Pipedown, in association with other groups, intends to keep pressing politicians on this vital issue. In the longer run, it is indeed a matter of life and death.

 

SAVE QUIET CARRIAGES ON TRAINS!

Recent reports indicate that several train companies are considering dropping Quiet Carriages on trains, on the grounds that such carriages are difficult and expensive to police and not really very popular. Write in to the heads of the relevant rail companies around the UK and tell them just how wrong they are.

Originally Quiet Carriages were established because of the noise caused by passengers talking non-stop on their mobiles, and by their ring tones. Now, as more and more people use text or email rather than talking to communicate, this particular problem has shrunk but the need for carriages that are quiet overall (with no very loud conversations, for example) grows as the world itself grows ever noisier.

Write also to the newspapers and even to your MP.

Andy Mellors is the top personage at South West Railways, and his email address is andy.mellors@swrailway.com

For Virgin, which has already stopped having Quiet Carriages in First Class, David Horne is the CE, david.horne@virgintrainseastcoast.com

Other rail CEOs’ e-addresses can be found at https://www.ceoemail.com/index-search.php

Piped music one of the most hated aspects of hotels today, new survey finds.

‘The omnipresent curse of annoying muzak’ is the fourth most commonly hated aspect of hotels today, reports The Good Hotel Guide in its just published 2018 edition.  (Poor Wifi reception, dim lighting in bedrooms and  ‘captive’ coat hangers were the first three most hated things in modern hotels.) The Good Hotel Guide,  one of the few such guides to remain wholly independent and impartial, gives full details about the piped music – or lack of – in each hotel reviewed.

ASDA chain goes quiet to help autism sufferers

All ASDA supermarkets turned off their muzac and reduced other acoustic and visual disturbances to a minimum for an hour last Tuesday to allow people with autism to shop in peace. This is a real advance: a major chain at last recognising the impact excessive noise can have on its customers. ASDA needs to expand the scheme to having well-advertised quiet hours every day of the year, however. Autism sufferers are of course especially vulnerable but they are not the only shoppers harmed by piped music. The 15% of the population with hearing problems are also badly affected, as are people with many other problems, from hyperacusis and tinnitus to ME. It is high time supermarkets woke up to this problem.

Email ASDA’s  CEO  Roger Burnley  roger.burnley@asda.co.uk,to press him to extend the scheme and make it a permanent feature of the chain, not a one-off. sean.clarke@asda.co.uk

 

Meanwhile, keep protesting to the Co-op which is finally showing signs of listening to its customers. Email the Co-op’s CEO Steve Murrells, perhaps also pointing out how well Aldi and Lidl are doing without any musicsteve.murrells@coop.co.uk

Restaurants deafen diners with music, GFG warns

The Good Food Guide 2018  once more includes information  about whether or not the place reviewed has music (though it does not specify what sort of music).

The GFG now reports that more and more establishments are alienating their customers by deafening them with ‘Glastonbury-force’ piped music.

This year’s guide, just published , warns of an ‘unprecedented trend for noisy restaurants, which is leading to a spike in complaints from sensitive eared customers….Restaurants are getting noisier – that’s what our readers, this year in unprecedented numbers, are telling us. Noise levels, already amplified by bare-bones design, are being raised by music played at Glastonbury force. Everyone loves a restaurant that has a buzzing, vibrant atmosphere, but it becomes exhausting and self-defeating when, as one old hand told us: ‘I have never heard such loudly amplified music in an eating place. It was so loud that I couldn’t hear a word the waitress was saying, and vice versa. We had to gesture and point.”

The recent very common trend for minimalist bare walls and floors, ‘not just in hipster places’, is also changing the acoustics in restaurants and making it difficult for people to hear each other.

Pipedown in collaboration with Action on Hearing Loss (aka RNID), is planning a fresh campaign to make restaurateurs far more aware of this problem.
 AHL has recently (20th September) relaunched its Speak Easy Campaign, encouraging diners to record noise levels with an app that can be downloaded onto a mobile.

Noise second only to air pollution as a cause of death, a new survey from New York shows

A new survey from New York  reveals the effects on human health of noise of all sorts. Noise is now second only to air pollution in its adverse effects on human health. Hypertension and cancer are two  of the potentially fatal illnesses that excessive, non-stop music – which triggers a fight-or-flight response – can cause. And, as the report in Harpers Bazaar magazine points out, you can no longer hope to find a refuge in bars, hotels, restaurants or even bookshops, as almost all are filled with piped music!

‘Loud noise correlated with high-stress events that could damage tissue: thunder, animal roars, screams, or war cries,’ says Bart Kosko, Ph.D., a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Southern California and the author of Noise. So, in response to rare but loud threats, we evolved to spurt out adrenalin, cortisol, and other stress hormones—chemicals that jacked up our bodies so we could fight or flee. A constant gush of stress hormones actually restructures the brain, contributing to tumor development, heart disease, respiratory disorders, and more. And of course, our hormonal endocrine systems haven’t had time to learn that car stereos aren’t out to get us. ‘Today we regularly get similar stress-hormone surges from car alarms, ringing phones, police sirens, leaf blowers, jackhammers, and amplified voices.’

The problem is of course global and not confined to the USA.

http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a10295155/noise-detox/

 

Leafleting Concert goers – and London local group

Carol Caplan has had a Brilliant Idea: handing out Pipedown leaflets to concert goers as they enter or leave a concert hall. As people who appreciate music when freely  chosen are among our keenest members, targeting people at such concerts should prove far more fruitful than thrusting leaflets at the general public.

Carol  would much appreciate other Pipedowners’ company and support. This should take members very little time but ideally you should live in or near London.

She is also interested in starting a Local Group for Pipedowners living in London, especially those living in the N2, N3, N8, N10, N11, N12, N14,N21, N22 post codes.

Contact her at  Pipedown@ossian.me.uk

 

Ann Arbor launches 1st Pipedown USA

People living in the USA have long complained about the problems caused by piped music there. Now the Ann Arbor, Michigan group has relaunched itself with a sparkling new website  http://quietannarbor.org

Although their intention is to focus on local problems first – understandably, the US being a big place – they are very happy to exchange contacts and ideas with Americans from other states. So do contact them quietannarbor@gmail.com

Write to your new MP about piped music in hospitals

Politics in Britain look to be unusually volatile in the next few months. This very uncertainty  give us a chance to alert MPs – plenty of them new to Westminster  – to the problems caused by piped music, and also the need for official action to ban it in hospitals. This could come either  through a Private Member’s Bill or directly by moves by the Department of Health. Copies of Whose Choice is it Anyway?, highlighting the stress such noise can cause, are available free on request.

If you have a new MP, write to him/her explaining the many grave problems piped music can cause, especially to people affected by presbycusis, tinnitus, misophonia and hyperacusis and  also ME and autism. The MP concerned may be totally unaware of any of these problems.