SOURCE print only by Christian Bergeron
Your eardrums and peace of mind are being assaulted by jackhammers, police sirens, jets and that punk in the Buick Turbo beside you blasting Led Zeppelin.
A survey of noise levels in Boston rated the Fenway and Longwood Medical Area with a D- for aural pollution from its densely packed neighborhoods, traffic, construction, and ball games and concerts at Fenway Park.
Survey respondent Karen Maureen Wolf cite the clamor of pile drivers at 7 am, ambulance with screeching siren, drunken college student parties and even “hostile ducks” marking their territories for earning the Fenway a low rating comparable to Mission Hill and Roxbury.
Other area neighborhoods fared considerably better, with the Back Bay and Beacon Hill getting B ratings, and the South End and Bay Village receiving a C grade.
Lead researcher Erica Walker, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said the survey confirms Boston as “a noisy city” in which 74 percent of residents have trouble falling asleep and 60 percent report difficulties staying in dreamland.
“Boston is noise, no doubt,” she said. “I’m concerned about how the sound level impacts resident’s health and quality of life.”
Representing the first comprehensive assessment of noise in the city since 1971, the multilevel Greater Boston Noise report provides “neighborhood report cards,” “community sound portraits,” interactive and static maps that detail sounds levels, noise sensitivity to particular urban sounds, self-reported health impacts and more.
The survey divides 24 Boston neighborhoods into 13 districts with some including multiple neighborhoods, such as Chinatown, downtown and the Leather District.
Walker and her team used sound level meters to measure noise at 400 sites across the city and studied surveys submitted by 1,200 residents.
Only Hyde Park and Mattapan, measured as one unit, received an A+ while Dorchester, South Boston and the South Boston waterfront, were given F ratings.
While noises levels vary throughout the city, Water said Boston’s average daytime level ranges between 62 and 65 decibels, comparable to normal conversation at 3 feet, and 55 decibels at night, comparable to large electrical transformers at 100 feet.
Noting that a typical office measure about 40 decibels, Walker said medical studies have shown excessive noise can cause changes in mood. Many cities violate World Health Organization recommendations for day and night noise levels, she said.
Since maker her study available to Mayor Martin Walsh and the Boston Planning and Development Agency, Walker hopes city officials “take a good look” at the research to determine what they could do to reduce noise and improve residents’ quality of life.
She expressed hope officials “promote the survey so that we can have a better representation of the city residents’ response to neighborhood noise.”
“Does construction need to start at 7am? Can the city encourage people to use electric lawn and garden equipment which is much quieter?” Walker asked. “Can police do more when people have illegal sound stye in their cars?”