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Does noise pollution ring a bell? (Part 1)

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Not everyone is affected by the same noises. For some, a jackhammer is irritating; others simply can't stand Justin Bieber. Personally, one of the worst sources of noise pollution is a car that beats to the sound of a massive audio system with subwoofers blasting decibels out the windows.

Don't get me wrong: I love music -- a lot, actually. However eclectic my own tastes may be, I don't listen to my favourite songs with the volume cranked to the max -- for numerous reasons.

One's freedom ends where another's begins
Don't put people through the same ordeals that you wouldn't want to go through yourself. When I can hear your “boom-boom-boom” coming from five blocks away, you've definitely crossed a line.

I understand that some folks like their music to play loud, but there's a place for that, and I'm just as entitled to enjoy a quiet environment as you are to test the limits of your speakers and eardrums.

I, for one, am quick to turn up the volume whenever I hear a good song on the radio; however, I'm considerate of people around me, and I never exceed a reasonable level of noise, let alone keep the windows down.

When I'm patiently waiting at an intersection and my seat suddenly starts to vibrate due to the sound waves of another driver's stereo, I can't wait for the light to turn green and that unbearable racket to fade into oblivion.

It's the same thing at home. How unpleasant is it to have my coffee cup start to shake when a subwoofer-powered car flies down my street -- or even the next one? The worst, of course, is being woken up in the middle of a good night's sleep by these disrespectful drivers.

Hearing is a precious thing

Sure, in my teenage years, I used to listen to my yellow Sony Walkman not thinking about potential damage to my hearing. Now that I've become older and wiser, I just can't tolerate even the tiniest excess of noise. Am I suffering from hyperacusis and paying for my past mistakes? Maybe. That's exactly what I try to teach my sons: Listening to unreasonably loud music all the time can cause permanent damage. They think they know it all because they're 15 and 12, so I have a hard time convincing them.

In Part 2 of this blog, I will focus on the consequences of cranking up the volume both from a health and legal standpoint.

2009 SEMA show
Photo: Philippe Champoux