THIRD INTERNATIONAL MULTIDISCIPLINARY CONFERENCE ON
In Rosario, Argentina, on September 29 and 30, 2000, the THIRD INTERNATIONAL MULTIDISCIPLINARY CONFERENCE ON ACOUSTIC VIOLENCE took place, organized by the Asociación de Logopedia, Foniatría y Audiología del Litoral, ASOLOFAL, through its Scientific Interdisciplinary Ecology and Noise Committee.
This Conference was declared to be of municipal interest by the City Council. Many oficial and private organizations have supported the event, and the high quality of the communications and reports should be stressed. Distinguished lecturers from Argentina, México and Uruguay have contributed to the success of the Conference.
Participants agreed in the definition of the expression "Acoustic Violence", coined by ASOLOFAL to refer to the new aproach of considering noise pollution as an instance of violent behaviour. This words identify these conference on noise since its inception in 1997.
The hazards of noise cannot be ignored. It affects the organism as well as the psyche, the society, the environment. Noise constitues a true agression at all stages of an individual's life, even before his or her birth. The sound waves were shown to be destructive by their own physical effect. This could be appreciated through photographs of histopathologic sections of the cochlea.
ASOLOFAL has been warning the society for a decade upon the harmful effects of all forms physical pollution against the atmospheric environment which the same as chemical pollution contribute important changes on the organism and its ecosystem.
The importance of social sound hygiene during childhood was stressed. It should involve two aspects: the increment of auditory sensitiveness and the reduction of sound levels.
The wrong behaviour exhibited by TV watchers, regardless of the high or low volume at which the sound track is listened was described, as well as the agressive sound level to which people are exposed at the cinema, thetre, shows, discotheques, etc.).
The invasive nature of noise immission into residential buildings, school classrooms, hospitals has proved quite negative at different ages.
Lecture auditoria, because of important acoustic flaws, make possible that external and internal noises become powerful distractors which impair communication.
The advantages of new hearing-aids and hearing protection devices technology was stressed. Particularly, they are more confortable than older ones. However, the other face of technology, that one involved in ever more powerful and cheaper audio equipment, was also analyzed, since they turn out to be important noise sources when used in an irresponsible way, causing different community problems.
The concept of "acoustic spot" was introduced and defined as an area around a noise source where the noise level due to that source is clearly higher than the ambient noise. The case of a discothque was studied, and the spot was analyzed and assessed taking into account the amount of people actually or potentially affected, the kind of noise and its semantic content (i.e., its meaning and possible evocations.
The need to analyze all aspects of humane comfort in a comprehensive way was discussed, since all aspects are generally releted to each other. For instance, thermal comfort by air conditioning will very likely imply an increment in noise, so acoustic comfort will suffer. A balance should be attempted.
The pitfalls of the argentine Standard IRAM 4062:2000 (which refers to the assessment of noise radiated to the neighborhood from the point of view of its annoying potential) were discussed. Particularly, examples were provided where the standard qualifies a noise as "annoying" while it is barely audible, whereas in other cases a clearly annoying noise is deemed as "not annoying". A proposal to improve it removing the "verdict" and leaving as a result the expected percentage of "highly annoyed individuals" was put forward.
A methodology was introduced to findt the proper measuring intervals for traffic noise in Montevideo, Uruguay. The major difficulty in this research has been the large amount of "anomalous" events, such as horns, noise of sudden braking, etc. The methodology toook this idiosyncratic characteristic into account.
The hearing acuity of the population of MOntevideo, Uruguay, was assessed from a data base of about 4000 audiograms, following the procedures of data base B of the International Standard ISO 1999 for people not exposed to professional noise. Montevideo turned out to be half the way between highly screened populations (data base A, standard ISO 7029) and industrialized populations.
Survey results were also presented on the point of view regarding noise of the population of Montevideo. Traffic noise was considered the most important noise problem. In spontaneous mentions, noise is one out of the three most important problems. But when people is specifically asked about noise, 68% consider it as an important or very important environmental problem.
Finally, auditory fatigue tests were mentioned as an important technique to screen people from the point of view of their susceptibility to suffer noise induced hearing impairment. This proves very useful to assess the likelyhood that a worker may develop professional hearing loss.
The noise question must be apprached in an "holistic" fashion. This needs an interdisciplinary team of people belonging to different specialties.
Research work must be rigorous, since the efforts to do research in a methodologically correct way is almost the same as a less observant approach, with the advantage that results are useful for future research.
Although noise has been considered an envioronmental pollutant for a long time, and as such it has been thoroughly investigated, next steps may require innovative developments.
The immision of noise into residential areas has raised the prevention issue as one of the most important ones, since it is the only way to succeed, in the long run, in accomplishing a healthy acoustic environment.
The early affective link of the newborn makes it possible for him or her to look for pleasuer in harmonious or soft sounds. Otherwise, the individual will find noise as an isolation and autoagression means.
There are no local nor regional regulations on the acoustic conditions to be complied with by educational facilities, particularly classrooms.
Appropriate materials and building systems should be considered in order to comply with such standards. This is true both for existing buildings as well as new ones which are in the project stage, in order to avoid serious acoustic defects.
That information, regardless of its mandatory or not mandatory character should be easily available for project engineers and architects, authorities and public.
Es de singular importancia la educación y concienciación, realizada por diversas vías, especialmente a través de programas de preservación de la salud ante la violencia acústica.
The National Constitution of Argentine, amended in 1994, acknowledges the right of inhabitants to enjoy a healthy environment, which is balanced and adequate for present and future humane developement. All inhabitants should preserve it, and the State should protect it through appropriate laws.
Such Constitution, thus, adheres to the principles which are contained in all constitutions ammended or passed in the last twenty years all around the World, as well as the environmental rules which may be found in the Civil Code and other legal texts.
These constitutional agreements have the same status as all the other humane rights.
The environmental rights, as any other humane right, is natural, universal and absolute; it should be ruled, it is outside trade and it has no time limit.
It should, thus, be protected even if its violation has no patrimonial consequences. Health damage, such as it might be expected in the case of acoustic violence, qualifies the sufferer to require the immediate suspension of the activity which causes it, and that amends are made, either with patrimonial content or not (patrimonial reparation is not essential in environmental rigts).
Both the individuals and the State are obliged to take care of the acoustic environment. The latter, by regulating and exercising the police power.
The Acoustic Violence is an instance of the present society, which lacks solidarity and respect for other people and the environment. A clear example of this may be found in the mega-shows which are organised by the municipal governments, where powerful loudspeakers throw their sound miles away, which combines with stentorian fireworks shows. This affects the whole community, which looks helpless at such acoustic agression.