LAX’s Noise Pollution Brings Serious Consequences For Poor Neighborhoods
Though many people might associate it with that one AC/DC song, noise pollution is a much more serious phrase than simply being a pejorative for rock music. Noise pollution typically doesn’t relate to music, but rather actual noise that is introduced in our lives. It is a term generally associated with the beginning of industrialization due to society of the time becoming increasingly noisier with each passing year. For example, trains have made society noisier over time due to their proximity to living areas. If you live next to a subway station that has trains passing by every few minutes, you are somebody whose quality of living has changed due to noise pollution.
Having a little bit more noise in your everyday life might not seem like a detrimental thing, but it is. Those who deal with excessive noise pollution (i.e. those who live near airports) are reported to develop health problems that otherwise wouldn’t have been there before. This is because being exposed to noise on a regular basis can affect the way your nervous system reacts, subsequently affecting your cardiovascular health and other aspects of your life.
Areas suffering from noise pollution also coincide with poorer neighborhoods with people having greater financial freedom being able to move out of the area. As a result, people living in these areas can’t avoid the potential health problems that can result from noise pollution, instead being subjected to the constant noise against their will.
Inglewood, California knows this dilemma well. Despite having spent millions of dollars throughout the years to soundproof the areas closest to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), there are still many people who are affected by the airport’s activity. It should be noted that the money didn’t go towards soundproofing all parts of Inglewood, but only middle class areas. As a result, the poorest areas of the city still experience heavy noise daily.
This isn’t necessarily due to bad intentions, though — the city’s zoning laws made it difficult to soundproof the entire area, prohibiting improvements in the poorer communities. These rules affect an astonishingly large amount of 1,200 apartments and homes!
Regardless of the reason for not soundproofing certain areas, the residents who get the brunt of the problem have it seriously affect their everyday lives. For example, Jose Peralta feels his entire house rattle every time a plane flies directly over it from LAX. This happens frequently, with the longest intervals between planes being a meager 5 minutes.
Planes typically fly over Peralta’s house until midnight each night, also affecting the amount of sleep him and his family can get. For an adult who understands where the noise is coming from, it’s incredibly annoying, but these noises can be terrifying for his young children. When planes are delayed due to weather issues, they can often wake up the children due to the loud noises in the middle of the night, making them think that a monster is in their house.
This dilemma becomes even more intolerable during the summer months. Because there is no air conditioning in many of these houses, the windows must stay open, leaving the families inside more vulnerable to hearing loud noises at regular intervals throughout the day. It’s also important to note that any apartments that were renovated in the area’s soundproofing were also given complimentary air conditioning units, something that also helped increase their quality of living and exposure to loud noises.
The most distressing part about this is that Jose Peraltas and his family aren’t alone. There are many different communities around LAX that are able to receive funding but don’t because of similar zoning regulations, further impacting their overall quality of life. Though other communities such as the nearby Darby/Dixon apartment have been promised inclusion during the next round of soundproofing, it is unclear as to exactly when it will take place or how long it will take.
Learning to Live With It
For many residents who live in areas filled with noise pollution, they don’t have a choice — they must live with it, something that can make their lives more complicated in the long run. Aside from the health-related detriments associated with long-term exposure to noise pollution, they simply can’t get as much done during the day. If they are speaking with anyone while planes are going ahead, they have to pause the conversation until the plane is done going overhead because of the inability to hear the other person.
On top of this, it is bad for your overall concentration to be surrounded by noise pollution, with excessive noise exposure lowering your overall concentration. Given the frequency of planes coming out of LAX (i.e. one of the busiest airports in the country), these symptoms become even more likely to develop.
However, many of the people living in these targeted, noise pollution-filled areas don’t have a choice other than to simply live with it. This has resulted in them structuring their days, work routines, and other activities around the noise pollution.
The Past Affecting the Future
One of the most troublesome things about the current noise pollution predicament is that it was caused by efforts to reduce the noise pollution in the city. For example, Inglewood tried to eliminate building further housing in areas that experienced high levels of noise from LAX. This was the reason for the initial zoning rules about not being able to make improvements in the area. As you can imagine, it backfired due to today’s situation needing improvements to the area that can’t happen.
Currently the city is trying to purchase building nears high-noise areas and not using them for housing, but this still doesn’t necessarily address the question of what current residence of Inglewood should do if they’re in an area that suffers from excessive noise pollution.
A Less Noisy Future
The last time that the Inglewood City Council commented on soundproofing the entire town was 5 years ago. This was when they revealed their plans to soundproof all living communities that suffered from the LAX noise pollution, but this still hasn’t been completed.
The designated area that will be soundproofed doesn’t cover the entire city of Inglewood, but rather all communities underneath the LAX flight path. This flight path is determined by which areas have sound going over 65 decibels at a time, a value known as the level at which it is difficult to hold a conversation. Keeping that in mind, many people in the area experience airplane sounds that go well over 90 decibels, greatly exceeding the threshold.
Though the city is continuing to soundproof homes when they have the resources to do so, many residents in the greater Inglewood area are still without any solution to their current predicament. Because many people don’t have the financial stability to move out of the area, they must get used to it, finding ways to cope and manage the potential health complications that will result.
There are still efforts to allocate airport funding to soundproofing certain homes, but this does not happen everywhere and is more a part of the Los Angeles County’s initiative. With the addition of more potential noise complications to the surrounding area if the LA Clippers build a new stadium in unused Inglewood land, the overall future of the area looks like it will stay as noisy as it has always been.
The consequences of noise pollution are much larger than you might think. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to stay vigilant in making sure that areas suffering from noise pollution can access the proper resources to appropriate soundproofing. Though it doesn’t seem like it will be coming to Inglewood anytime soon, residents such as Jose Peralta will continue to speak out in hopes that change will happen.