Shh! Time to quiet down

Listen up, America: It's time to quiet down. That's the message from the National Academy of Engineering, which said last week that the government should take steps to make America a quieter place.

Wichita State University professor Ray Hull says it's about time.

Prolonged exposure to sounds such as lawnmowers, MP3 players or motorcycles can damage hearing, disrupt sleep patterns and even increase violence and workplace injuries, he said.

But turning down the volume of our society could be a hard sell.

"Americans like noise," said Hull, director of WSU's doctoral program in audiology. "If that 6.5 horsepower Briggs & Stratton lawnmower they're using isn't loud, it's obviously not powerful enough.

"The more powerful the sound, the more powerful the tool, or car, or music."

In the report released Thursday, the national group called for increased cooperation among engineers, industrial management and government to reduce noise levels, adding, "It will not be accomplished in a short time."

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