New England College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

By Michael A. Nissenbaum, MD

How did we get here?
     Preconstruction noise modeling is a key part of the planning and submission process. Acoustic engineering firms are typically consulted, and they take the known maximal noise emissions from a particular IWT model to be used, add a safety factor (in theory) of a few decibels, and take account of such factors as topography, ground cover, and ambient nighttime noise levels. These various factors are plugged into software programs; maps of sound contours are developed that show expected noise levels at certain reception sites (typically homes).

     If any of the variables plugged into the programs are incorrect or based upon a faulty understanding of human physiology, the outcome may end up being unsatisfactory to the point of being disastrous for the affected residents. Incomplete or erroneous understanding of human physiology frequently informs the variables non-medical people use to arrive at conclusions as to whether people will have their health adversely affected by IWT installation. Let us review a few of these.
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