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Lufthansa Group Balance 2014 EN

Prof. Dr. Brigitte Schulte-Fortkamp Prof. Schulte-Fortkamp, the issue of noise is becoming increasingly prominent on the agenda of public debate. We could sum up the expectation of many people as follows: “The world must get quieter.” But to achieve this objective, we need to come to a shared understanding of the causes and effects of noise as well as possible solutions. What is noise? Noise is sound that is unpleasant, disturbing, and/or harmful to health (DIN 1320). The adverse effects of unpleasant or disturbing sounds may be psychological, physical, social, or economic. The important thing to remember is that noise cannot be measured on a gauge. Noise is one’s reaction to sounds, which may be experienced as irritation, anger, stress, or even illness. Why is it that one person may find loud music pleasant while his or her neighbor is disturbed by it? Or to put the question another way, what turns a sound into noise? How loud you want your music depends on your own mood or what type of music it is. This explains why your neighbor may feel bothered by it. When sounds disrupt conver- sation, interfere with sleep, or are inappropri- ate to a situation, then they become noise. The more often this happens, the more annoyed one feels and the greater the dan- ger of falling into a cycle of irritation, stress, and illness. It is not always the volume of a sound that matters; quite often it is its signifi- cance. Softer sounds that resemble the pattern of unwelcome sounds can be per- ceived as noise as well. What makes noise different from other emissions such as the toxic substances or radiation levels we are exposed to in our highly developed, mobile society? One can always reduce or even prevent noise, whether by “turning it down” by techni- cal means at the source or, for the sake of social compatibility, by social convention. By that I mean not only that rules and regulations for noise prevention should be complied with. Rather, noise is not just physically present or technically generated but socially generated as well. It is, in other words, also a matter of individual, and therefore social, behavior. Furthermore, even though the harmful effects of noise are well known, often they cannot be observed directly, and this is why noise can affect people in a dangerous matter. We all want to be mobile. Even the exotic fruits on display in the supermarket are expected to be fresh. But airports and freeways, like cell phone towers, are con- sidered undesirable. How do you explain this development, which, in Western ­societies at least, is very widespread? People are of course only too happy to use modern innovations, including freeways and airports, for their own convenience. The ques- tion is, however, would one really like to live near a freeway or airport and put up with the associated stresses? Probably not! We prefer to leave that to “others.” What can one do about noise, actively or passively? There is a lot one can do about noise, both actively and passively. Noise can be actively reduced at the source. One can begin by avoiding noise oneself, which is partly a mat- ter of social conduct. We’re all familiar with them, those people on the train, in the waiting lounge at the airport, or on the neighbor’s balcony who are forever talking on their phones. By the same token, you don’t have to rev up your motorcycle or sports car in a populated area or insist that the entire neigh- borhood enjoy your latest CD at full volume. It is the technological sources that matter the most. Manufacturing-based solutions can reduce noise generation at the source, as in the case of low-noise road and rail vehicles and aircraft. Given the burden of ­environmental noise, it is absolutely vital to use passive sound insulation for one’s living area. But that means it also has to be made ­available. ß Interview with Professor Dr. Brigitte Schulte-Fortkamp Expert on psychoacoustics and noise effects, ­Institute of Fluid Mechanics and Engineering Acoustics at the Technische Universität Berlin.  10 // More quietly into the future

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