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Analysis of Albuquerque New Mexico's Ambient Noise and Albuquerque Environmental Health's Noise Control Program

By Debra Sickler-Hart MSN, RN

January 31, 1997

This study was ordered by the Environmental Health Department of the City of Albuquerque and paid for by the City. The final draft was provided to CQE by the EHD but the study has never been officially adopted by the City and should not be interpreted to reflect official City policy or the City position on study issues.


Literature Review
Ambient Noise Exposure in Urban Settings and Population Exposures
Health Effects of Ambient Urban Noise
History of Noise Abatement and Control

Assessment of Noise Control
Survey of Noise Control Programs
Noise Control in the City of Albuquerque, NM
Analysis of Albuquerque's Noise Complaints for 1996

Noise Survey

Working Group Recommendations
Recommendations for Albuquerque, New Mexico


Appendix A
Cities Contacted for Noise Program Survey
Appendix D
Comparison of City Ordinances
Appendix E
Comparison of Motor Vehicles Regulations Established in City Ordinances
Appendix F
Descriptions of Noise Control Programs
San Antonio, TX
Yes Yes Yes Yes
El Paso, TX Yes Yes Yes Yes
Denver, CO Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cleveland, OH Yes No No No
Oklahoma City, OK Yes No No No
Fort Worth, TX Yes No No No
Portland, OR Yes Yes Yes Yes
Kansas City, MO Yes Yes Yes Yes
Charlotte, NC Yes No No No
Tucson, AZ Yes Yes Yes No
Long Beach, CA Yes Yes Yes Yes
Albuquerque, NM Yes Yes Yes Yes
Atlanta, GA Yes No No No
Fresno, CA Yes No No No
Tulsa, OK Yes Yes Yes No
Sacramento, CA Yes No No No
Miami, FL Yes No No No
St. Louis, MO Yes No No No
Oakland, CA Yes Yes Yes No
Pittsburgh, PA Yes Yes Yes No
Toledo, OH Yes Yes Yes No
Colorado Springs, CO Yes Yes Yes No
Mesa, AZ Yes No No No
Buffalo, NY Yes Yes Yes No
Salt Lake City, UT Yes Yes Yes Yes
Las Cruces, NM Yes Yes Yes Yes
Santa Fe, NM Yes Yes Yes Yes
Roswell, NM Yes No No No
Clovis, NM Yes No No No
Alamogordo, NM Yes No No No
St. Louis County, MO No Yes Yes No
Bernalillo County, NM No Yes Yes No


"There are many incidents of heart disease occurring daily in the U S. for which the noise of twentieth century living is major contributory cause." William Stewart, former Surgeon General of the United States (Environmental Protection Agency, 1978).

Noise pollution is an increasing health risk in many urban communities. Noise pollution is an example of a situation where science and technology have advanced faster than public policy. In 1970 the Noise Pollution and Abatement Act of 1970 required the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] to establish the Office of Noise and Abatement Control [ONAC]. The Noise Control Act (NCA] was legislated in 1972 to ensure that environments are free from noises that jeopardize the health and welfare of Americans. However, Congress has not funded the ONAC since 1982 based on the argument that noise pollution is best handled at the state and local levels. Unfortunately, because of conflicting political, ethical and socioeconomic interests, local noise control policies and ordinances are often not protective or enforceable.

Heath effects from noise exposure can be divided into two categories: physical damage and annoyance. Physical damage is actual damage to the microscopic hairs in the inner ear that transmit sound to the auditory nerve (Castleman, 1992). The health effects of annoyance are less understood because they are subjective and difficult to quantify.

Growing evidence suggests a link between exposure to noise and development or aggravation of multiple cardiac and circulatory problems. Studies also suggest that unborn infants may be negatively affected by the physical changes the mother experiences in response to stressful noise exposure (Kryter 1985). Children appear to be at an additional risk from excessive ambient noise exposure1. Ambient noise interferes with the educational process and hinders language development (EPA, 1978; Williams & Lucas, 1978). Ambient noise has also been associated with sleep disturbances, (EPA, 1978; Fidel, Pearsons, Tabachnick, Howe, Silvati, & Barber, 1995) and various cognitive, behavioral, and psychological effects (Starnes & Loeb, 1978; Willams & Lucas, 1978; Kryter, 1990; and Staples 1996). Although the actual individual health risk associated with ambient noise may be small, the overall public health impact may be very significant due to the large numbers of people involved. Virtually everyone will at some time be negatively impacted by ambient noise. Unfortunately, there currently are no studies to support a universal standard limiting ambient noise levels. EPA states that irritability can be observed in humans when exposed to 55 dB(A) for extended periods (EPA1879b). This report addresses the following issues:

  1. the history of noise control in America;
  2. a description of Albuquerque, New Mexico's noise control program;
  3. an analysis of Albuquerque's urban noise;
  4. methods used by Albuquerque's Environmental Health Department to protect city residents from excessive ambient noise.

Recommendations are made to improve the current protection provided to Albuquerque's residents through changes in policy and current noise ordinances.

1For the purpose of this report; ambient noise is considered to be all the natural noise sources such as birds and wind, along with noise resulting from human activity. such as traffic and other neighborhood sounds that may or may not be identifiable (Boersma, 1997).


Ambient Noise Exposure in Urban Settings and Population Exposures

Noise as defined by the EPA is "any sound that may produce an undesired physiological or psychological effect in an individual or group" (EPA, 1977b). In a report to the Administrative Conference of the United States, Suter (1991) estimated that noise levels in urban areas have increased 11 percent during the 1980's. As urban development continues to increase, so will community noise levels (Alexandre & Barde, 1991). In many areas, noise is considered the main local environmental problem, often more important than air pollution or drinking water quality (Bequette, 1994). The U.S. Census Bureau has found noise to be the number one reason for community dissatisfaction (Spectrum, 1987).

The leading sources of urban noise (industry, road-traffic, rail-traffic, and air-traffic) are somewhat predictable and have historically been the focus of environmental noise studies. Air-traffic noise is the fastest increasing source of noise, not only in the urban areas but also in rural and wilderness areas (Nadis, 1994). In response to citizen complaints, Congress passed the Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act of 1990. This act mandated a phase-out of older, noisier aircraft and environmental review of major rerouting of air traffic. Other sources of noise in the urban areas are transitory, dogs barking, noisy neighbors, and consumer products such as lawn-mowers. The effects of these transient noises are less well understood. The unpredictably of these sounds are less well understood. The unpredictability of these sounds and odd hours are known to increase the annoyance and make it difficult to enforce existing noise ordinances (Alvord, 1988).

Noise levels are expressed in decibels (dB) or the pressure exerted on the inner ear. The audible threshold is 0 dB, normal conversation is 50 to 70 dB, and the pain threshold is 120 dB (Bequette, 1994). EPA has established 55 dB as the average acceptable level for ambient noise (Shapiro, 1992). In 1981, EPA estimated that 92.4 million people were exposed to greater than 58 dB on a regular basis (Shapiro, 1992). Hearing damage occurs with regular exposures of 75 dB for eight hours (Lowry, 1989) EPA average estimates for exposure levels are shown in Tables 1 and 2.

Table 1

EPA Average Estimates of Exposure Levels (Shapiro, 1993)

52 dB Daytime sound levels in a quiet suburban neighborhood
67 dB Homemakers
70 dB Office workers
77 dB School children
80 dB City street

Table 2

EPA Average of Estimates for Intensity Levels (Shapiro, 1993)

48-78 dB Washing machines
60-85 dB Vacuum cleaners
60-90 dB Non moving, running automobile at 50 feet
68-94 dB In-sink food disposal
76-88 dB Non moving, running heavy truck at 50 feet

Health Effects of Ambient Urban Noise

Noise pollution is an increasing health risk in many urban communities. Health effects from noise exposure can be divided into two categories: physical damage and annoyance. Physical damage is actual damage to the microscopic hairs in the inner ear that transmit sound to the auditory nerve (Castleman, 1992). Exposure to excessive ambient noise is a physical stressor that directly alters physiological processes of the cardiovascular and endocrine systems resulting in high blood pressure and increased catecholamine secretion (McCunney, 1992). The health effects of annoyance are less understood since they are subjective and difficult to quantify.

Noise-induced deafness resulting from occupational exposures was first documented among metal workers in the sixteenth century (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1986). Hearing loss of World War II soldiers was the catalyst for recent research and development of occupational noise-control policies in this century. Industrial noise exposure is well understood and has been regulated in the United States since the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act of 1969. Unfortunately, exposure to ambient noise is under-studied, even though health effects of ambient noise have been recorded throughout history. Sir Francis Lord Bacon described hearing deficits among people living near waterfalls along the Nile during the first century AD (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 1988). The health effects of ambient noises are less understood than occupational exposure due to the difficulty in designing a well-controlled epidemiologic study that is able to control for all confounders (McCunney, 1992). The most documented health effect of noise exposure is hearing loss. It is estimated that 10 million people in the United States suffer some degree of noise-induced hearing loss from both ambient and occupational exposures. There is no cure for noise induced hearing loss (Kryter, 1985; Shapiro, 1993).

Growing evidence suggests a link between exposure to noise and development or aggravation of multiple cardiac and circulatory problems. Hyper tension that is associated with noise is believed to be a result of a stress response that increases production of Adrenocortical hormones, which increases the heart rate and, eventually, increases blood pressure (McCunney, 1992; EPA 1978). Several studies suggest that individuals exposed to ambient noise have an increase in risk of developing some cardiovascular effect. This results in approximately 200 excess cases of cardiovascular disease each year for every 100,000 individuals exposed to excessive noise (Shapiro, 1993). Regecova and Kellerova (1994) found that pre-school children exposed to traffic noise near their kindergartens had a higher incidence of blood pressure values above the 95th percentile than those not exposed. Knipschild and Oudshoorn (1977) also showed that the incidence of medical treatment for heart disease, use of cardiovascular drugs, pathological heart shape, and hypertension were significantly higher in people who lived in areas with high aircraft noises. Millar & Steels' 1990 study found that pulse volume remained significantly higher when subjects were exposed to continuous noise.

Noise may also affect unborn infants; it is known that a fetus responds to loud noises by increasing its body movements and heart rate (Gegor & Kriebs, 1997). Fetuses are also exposed to maternal physical changes in response to stressful situations such as noise or other forms of stress. Maternal stress results in constriction of the uterine blood vessels supplying nutrients and oxygen to the fetus. While it is not certain at what level maternal exposure to noise is dangerous to the fetus, some studies do create concern. Kryter (1985) states that mothers living in areas exposed to high aircraft noise have lower weight babies than those who live in quieter areas. Niemtzow (1993) also cites studies that suggest an increased risk of hearing-impairment in children whose mothers worked in noisy situations during pregnancy. Further studies in this area are necessary before a conclusive cause and effect relationship can be established.

Ambient noise can disrupt a child's educational process and requires considerable time for the child to refocus (EPA, 1978). If persistent, loud ambient noises may also hinder language development by interfering with the child's ability to distinguish the sounds of speech. Studies also have shown that children exposed to intense ambient noises from traffic and aircraft at school may have lower reading and math scores than children who attend quieter schools (EPA, 1978). One study found that noise exposure at home was more predictive of reading ability than parents' educational background, the number of children in the family or grade level (Williams & Lucas, 1978).

Ambient noise can interfere with sleep in several ways. It can make it difficult to fall asleep, it can be responsible for awakening at night or it can disrupt normal sleeping patterns and depth of sleep. Responses to noise before and during sleep vary widely among individuals. The elderly and sick are more sensitive to noise at night and often have difficulty falling back asleep (EPA, 1978; Fidel et al. 1995).

Noise is also associated with various cognitive, behavioral, and psychological effects. Starnes and Loed (1993) found noise to have an adverse effect on memory. Kryter (1990) found that exposure to aircraft noise was significantly positively associated with admission to psychiatric hospitals. Much of the research occurring in this area has been inconclusive, partly due to the wide variability in human reaction to noise and because dose-response relations have not been established (Staples, 1997). Williams and Lucus (1978) reports that continuous exposure to noise has been shown to make individuals tense, irritable and upset. Continuous exposure also has been shown to negatively affect performance accuracy, increase observation errors, distort perception time, and makes remaining alert more difficult (Williams & Lucas, 1978). Noise has also been shown to strain relations between individuals, degrade social behavior, cause people to be less tolerant and less helpful (Shapiro, 1993; EPA 1978). Staples (1996) proposes that improved methodology, a well developed theoretical framework, and government support will provide a better understanding of individual differences in reactions to environmental noise. Ambient noise has also been the cause of numerous accidents where an auditory warning signal was not heard because of the background noise. Ambient noise can also interfere with shouts for help, therefore delaying assistance (EPA, 1978).

History of Noise Abatement and Control

The first recorded noise ordinance banning chariots from the streets at night was passed by Julius Caesar in the first century B.C. (EPA 1979b). Until the 1972 NCA, local noise regulation like Julius Caesar's ordinance was based on local ordinances prohibiting "excessive" noise. In 1969 Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which required agencies to assess noise impacts as part of all environmental impact statements (Shapiro, 1992). The Noise Pollution and Abatement Act of 1970 required EPA to establish the Office of Noise and Abatement Control (ONAC) which was to identify and classify causes and sources of noise, and to determine:

On recommendation of the ONAC, Congress passed the 1972 NCA. Under the NCA, the EPA is responsible for:

Congress passed the Quiet Communities Act of 1978 which requires ONAC to expand its support to state and local governments by:

In 1981, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recommended to Congress that the ONAC be eliminated to help reduce the federal deficit. EPA supported this funding-cut by reporting to Congress that local and state governments would continue noise control. Noise pollution also did not have the strong political support that other environmental issues such as air pollution had (Shapiro, 1992).

Although funding was terminated, Congress did not repeal the NCA or the Quiet Communities Act. Because these acts were not repealed, EPA still has a statutory responsibility to implement them. Some of EPA's responsibilities such as those involving inter-state transportation and aircraft noise were transferred to the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (Shapiro, 1992; Staples, 1996). Since the ONAC is no longer funded, responsibility for noise abatement has fallen on state and local governments. However, the NCA preempts states from imposing their own emission standards on products already regulated by EPA. This prevents states and local governments from enacting laws or regulations that are more strict or conflict with existing federal EPA standards (United States General Accounting Office, 1977, Shapiro, 1992).

Nationally, the number of local communities with noise control programs has decreased from 300-400 in the early 1980's to fewer than 75 in the mid-1990's (Shapiro, 1993). There are numerous reasons why local governments have abandoned noise abatement programs. Without federal financial support, noise abatement programs were frequently too expensive for local governments (Shapiro, 1992). Without the ONAC to support noise abatement programs across the country, some local governments feared that an active noise abatement program would put them at a disadvantage when competing for industrial development (Shapiro, 1992). Local governments also felt it was not cost-effective to maintain noise abatement programs if these programs cannot address significant sources such as airplane, or railroad noise, areas in which the EPA has established standards and has enforcement responsibility (Shapiro, 1992). Fortunately, many noise abatement programs that are in existence have expanded to address not only noise limitation and abatement but also zoning, subdivision regulations, site design, environmental impact assessments, real estate disclosures, and impact fees (Shapiro, 1992).

Although the actual individual health risk associated with ambient noise may be small, the overall public health impact may be very significant due to the large numbers of people involved. Congress' withdrawal of financial support for noise abatement in 1981 resulted in a decrease in effectual local noise abatement programs (Shapiro, 1993). Because noise is not only a source of community annoyance, but also a significant health issue, the withholding of financial support has had a negative effect on the health and social welfare of our communities.


In order to assess and compare Noise Control In Albuquerque, NM with other cities a telephone survey of 29 cities was conducted. In an effort to assess and under-stand the noise issue in Albuquerque, an analysis of all noise complaints received by AEHD for 1996 was done, a noise monitory survey was conducted and a focus group was held with the employees of AEHD Consumer Protect Division who are responsible of enforcement of the noise ordinance.

Survey of Noise Control Programs


A telephone survey of twenty-four cities in 15 states and five cities in New Mexico (29 total) was conducted to determine which cities have active noise control programs (See Appendixes A and B). Cities were selected that were similar in population size to Albuquerque, were in the southwest, or had a reputation of having a proactive noise control program. The mayor's or the city manager's office was contacted unless a specific department or individual was previously identified. The interviewer explained the purpose of the call and asked to speak with a staff member who received noise complaints and was

familiar with the city's noise ordinance, the regulations specified in the ordinance, and the of the ordinance. If staff in the mayor's or the city manger's office responded police handled all noise complaints and the police department confirmed that noise were handled by officers without the aide of a decibel meter, it was concluded city did not have an active noise control program. Also, if the interviewer was department to department without reaching a knowledgeable employee, it was concluded the city did not have a current noise control program. For the propose of this study, an active noise control program is defined as a system to receive noise complaints, determine noise levels with a decibel meter, and tile ability to enforce limits established in the ordinance.

All cities contacted reported having an ordinance on record, but only twelve of the twenty-nine cities contacted appear to have an active noise control program according to our definition. These cities are: San Antonio and El Paso, TX; Denver, CO; Toledo, OH; Salt Lake City, UT; Portland, OR; Kansas City, MO; Charlotte, NC; Long Beach CA; and Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe, NM. Descriptive data were collected on the communities identified as having an active noise control program. Data collected included: the number of employees dedicated to the noise control program, source of noise complaints, budget, type, and number of noise complaints. Full-time staff equivalent was determined by multiplying percent of an employee's time spent on noise-related issues by the number of employees. This information was collected by telephone interview using a questionnaire. All information was entered at the time of the interview into an Epi Info (version 6.04) data program.

At the time of the telephone interview, a copy of each city's noise ordinance was for comparison with the current Albuquerque noise ordinance. Copies of eighteen cities and one from Bernalillo County, NM, were received. Copies of were received from all cities that were identified as having an active noise ordinances were examined to determine allowable decibel levels for various types of activities addressed in the ordinances, day time and night time hours, restrictions, and automobile limits. (See Appendix C, D and E)

Number of staff, varied from the equivalent of 2.7 full-time employees in San Antonio, TX, to the lowest full time staff equivalent of 0.07 in Las Cruces, NM. The average full-time staff equivalent for all 29 sites was 0.73. Both San Antonio, TX, and Charlotte, NC, were unique in that all staff were trained police officers. The San Antonio, TX, staff were police officers assigned to the Code Compliance Department who handled all environmental issues such as noise and illegal dumping. In Charlotte, NC, the entire police force is trained to respond to noise complaints, take decibel readings and assess the situation.

They also respond to commercial and industrial noise complaints and are involved in zoning issues that affect community noise. Six cities reported that their noise control programs were part of their environmental health department, two reported it was part of their code enforcement department, two reported it was part of their land use department and one city reported it as part of their planning department (See Appendix F).

Budget information for six cities was either unavailable or the total departmental budget was not broken down by specific programs. Budget estimations for the remaining six programs ranged from 55,000 - 580,655. These figures may not be accurate since some actual budget allotments and other figures were estimations (See Appendix F).

Weekly complaints varied from 225 in Charlotte, NC, to 1 in Las Cruces, NM. Both San Antonio, TX, (n=70) and Charlotte, NC (n=225), where complaints are handled by police reported significantly higher numbers of weekly complaints. The average estimated of weekly complaints for the remaining cities was 5. All cities reported an increase during the summer months (See Appendix F).

Standards established in each city's ordinance varied widely, Although most cities established allowable ambient noise levels, Pittsburgh, PA, Tulsa, OK, Buffalo, NY, and Las Cruces, NM did not. All ordinances except Pittsburgh, PA and Las Cruces, NM restricted nighttime hours. Albuquerque, NM was the only city with established allowable ambient noise levels that did not vary by zoning or land use. Other noise sources frequently addressed in the ordinances were: non emergency signaling devices, animals, automobile noise, loudspeakers, construction, idling trucks, power tools, motor vehicles and refuse collection (See Appendixes D and E).

Noise Control in the City of Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque's noise program is part of Albuquerque's Environmental Health Department. Currently there are fourteen staff members, spending 9.5 percent of their time on noise issues. Albuquerque receives an average of four noise complaints weekly, with the complaints increasing during warm months and decreasing during winter months. The current budget of 580,655 is through general funding.

Albuquerque's noise ordinance establishes 50 dB(A) or 10 dB(A) above ambient as the allowable noise at the property line. This level does not vary by zoning or land use. This level is defined as "the sound pressure level of the all encompassing noise associated with a given environment, being usually a composite of sounds from many and excluding the specific noise under investigation." Nighttime hours are established as 10:00 pm to 7:00 am. During nighttime hours any noise that is audible within any dwelling that is not the source of the noise is prohibited. Other noise sources addressed in the Albuquerque noise ordinance are: sound amplifying equipment, drums and bells, machinery, equipment fans, air conditioners, vehicle repairs and aircraft engine noise during maintenance.

Although Table 3. shows that Albuquerque has more full time employees, a larger budget and receives fewer weekly noise complaints it is not possible to conclude that Albuquerque is not protecting its citizens from excessive noise levels as well as other cities. It is not possible to compare Albuquerque's noise program with other cities' noise control programs because information on budget and complaints from many of the cities surveyed were estimates whereas Albuquerque data were actual figures. Also, it can not be assumed that because El Paso, TX has an average of 0.17/100,000 complaints per week that El Paso's citizens are more satisfied with the ambient noise levels or that El Paso is quieter than Albuquerque which receives an average of 0.97/100,000. Also Albuquerque's full time employee equivalent includes support staff; It is unclear whether other cities included support staff when reporting number of employees.

Analysis of Albuquerque's Noise Complaints for 1996


During 1996, AEHD received 200 noise complaints from 162 individuals. (Figures 1 and 2.) When a resident of Albuquerque files a noise complaint with AEHD, all information including date, name, phone number and address of complainant, name (if available) and address of noise source, information concerning type, source and time of the noise are entered on a complaint form. This form is then given to the appropriate inspector depending on address location. The inspector then contacts the complainant, visits the sites and takes decibel readings if appropriate. The inspector then notifies tile individual the complaint was filed against either in person or by mail to discuss the situation. In most cases the problem can be solved with no further intervention; however, in a few cases additional follow up by the inspector is required or the case is referred to mitigation or taken to trial. The inspector may or may not record terms of resolution on the original complaint form. All information on the complaint forms were entered into an Epi Info (version 6.04) data program for data analysis.

Table 3

Budget and Staff for Cities With Active Noise Control Programs


San Antonio, TX 935,393 $350,000* Total budget for department. This department is responsible for all environmental crimes such as noise and illegal dumping. 6
All staff are police officers
45% 2.7 FTE 70
EL Paso, TX 579,307 $5,000 12 3%* 0.36 FTE* 1*
Denver, CO 493,359 $60,000 1 55%* 0.55 FTE* Unavailable
Portland, OR 451,777 $60,000 1 100% 1.0 FTE 7
Kansas City, MO 443,878 $59,000 3 33% 0.99 FTE* 15
Charlotte, NC 437,797 All police officers are trained and equipped with decibel meters to respond to calls. Budget not broken down. All police respond to noise calls 225*
Long Beach, CA 433,852 Unavailable 2 15%* 0.3 FTE* 10*
Albuquerque, NM 411,994 $80,655 14 includes support staff 9.5% 1.33 FTE 4
Toledo, OH 322,550 Not available. Department budget not broken down by noise. 3 7%* 0.21 FTE* 2*
Salt Lake City, UT 159,936+ Unavailable 1 75%* 0.75 FTE* 2*
Las Cruces, NM 62,126+ Unavailable 7 1%* 0.07 FTE* 1*
Santa Fe, NM 53,859+ Unavailable 5 10%* 0.5 FTE* 3*

* Numbers are based on estimates.
Population data are 1994 census estimates in The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1997. Robert Fanighitti (ed).
+ 1990 census as reported in Population The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1997. Robert Fanighitti (ed).

Figure 1


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Noise complaints fell into four categories: 1. Complaints from residents against another resident for sources such as loud music, working on cars, or wood working; 2. Complaints from residents against industry or commercial sites such as loud music from night clubs; 3. Noise from trucks while loading or unloading or ice cream trucks; 4. Complaints about noise at construction sites, and nonspecific noises from unidentified sources. Ten complaints (5 percent), specifically mentioned noticeable vibration along with the noise source of the complaint. Thirty-six complaints 18 percent), were from apartment dwellers.

Of the forty-four commercial complaints, thirteen were complaints against loud music at restaurants or night clubs, and eight were against loading or unloading of semi trucks or noise from trucks waiting to be loaded or unloaded (Figure 3). One of these complaints was equipment at commercial sites such as PA systems or generators; twelve were against the music of ice cream trucks. The majority of commercial complaints were for noise during the night time hours, except for the ice cream truck complaints which were all before 10:00 PM. Three of the music complaints also mentioned noticeable vibration or loud bass. Nine of the thirteen complaints for loud music were filed against only three different nightclubs. It was not unusual for one nightclub to receive several complaints from several individuals or from one individual to file multiple complaints. The other commercial complaints appeared to be resolved quickly with only one site receiving a second complaint. This information is limited due to the limited follow up information available on complaint forms.

Of the twenty-six complaints filed against construction sites, there were only ten different sites receiving complaints. It is not unusual for each construction site to receive multiple complaints, not only from several different individuals but also from a single individual filing multiple complaints. This is especially true if the construction occurs over a long period of time. One individual filed six complaints against one construction site. Of the complaints received concerning construction noise, fifteen, or 57 percent, were for beginning construction before 7:00 AM (Figure 4). Two complaints were filed for construction noise associated with vibration. One complaint was filed for construction noise plus loud music at the construction site.

The most frequent residential complaint (24 complaints) was for loud music (Table 4.). Some of these complaints were for music from cars and some were from stationary sources. It is difficult to determine percentage of music from cars due to the limited information on complaint forms. Three of the music complaints were against bands playing in residential areas. In three complaints, music was mentioned with other sources of noise such as car repair and loud cars. Vibration along with music was mentioned in 9 complaints. Car alarms were the second most frequent complaint with thirty-six complaints. One car alarm was the subject of nineteen complaints over the twelve-month period from eight different individuals. Another car alarm resulted in five complaints from two individuals. These two cars accounted for 67 percent of car alarm complaints.

Loud cars were mentioned in twelve complaints, while noise resulting from residents working on cars at residential sites was mentioned in ten complaints. Other sources of noise are shown in Table 2, There were also two vague complaints from neighbors with a documented long standing disagreement. Other sources of noise mentioned once were: church bells, hot tub, house alarm, people noise, pounding, and traffic on second sheet.

In nineteen cases (9.5%), the individual filling the complaint attempted to speak with the responsible party. Information from the complaint form indicate that in only 19 cases the noise issue was satisfactorily resolved. In the seven incidences where the noise was

Table 4

Sources of residential noise

Source Number Percent
Loud Music 44 34.6%
Car Alarms 36 28.3%
Loud Cars 12 9.4%
Car Repair 10 7.8%
Miscellaneous 8 6.3%
Air Conditioners 6 4.7%
Wood Working 4 3.1%
One Time Events 3 2.4%
Compressor or Motor Noise 2 1.6%
Skate Board Ramp 2 1.6%

*Equals more than 100% because several sources were mentioned in some complaints

observed or measured by an employee of the Environmental Health Department there was only one incident in which the noise was within allowable limits On seventeen complaints it was indicated that no action was taken. Complaint forms show that referrals to the Police Department were made eleven times, referrals to zoning were made four times and one referral to Traffic Control was made. These numbers may be underestimated or inaccurate due to information not consistently reported on noise complaints.

In addition to the 200 noise complaints received by AEHD in 1996, Albuquerque Police Department [APD] responded to 4,820 loud music calls and 3,061 calls for loud parties. APD also received 40,531 general disturbance calls of which an undetermined percent were the result of excessive noise.

  Noise Survey

  The objective of the noise monitoring was to measure the noise levels and evaluate the appropriateness of current decibel limits established in the Albuquerque noise ordinance.

Site Selection

  One hundred and one randomly chosen map coordinates within the Albuquerque City limits were used for sites of ambient noise sampling (see Figure 5). Microphone locations at each site were chosen so that no nearby noise source was dominant. Microphones were placed on the sidewalk facing toward the street. The steady background noise levels at the sites and locations caused by local neighborhood, industrial, and commercial sources were typical for urban areas. Transient noise sources such as air traffic could not be controlled for and may have skewed results due to short periods of monitoring at each site. All measurements were taken between August 11, 1997 and October 8, 1997 and between 9:30 AM and 5:00 PM. Weather conditions were similar on all days that measurements were taken (sunny, warm and without significant wind) (Appendix G).

Equipment and Methodology

 The noise level amplitude measurements were performed by a type 2 precision, Metronomic db-308 Sound Level dosimeter/analyzer. Factory calibration of the Metronomic db-308 was last performed in April, 1997. Calibration was verified by hand using a calibrator generating sound at 114 dB 1 kHz prior to beginning data collection- The Metrosonic db-308 was programmed to sample for 10-minute intervals at "A" weighting and a slow response at each site. A wind screen and tripod were used for all measurements. For each site the Metrosonic db 308 automatically recorded the average continuous exposure (Leq), the maximum Leq sound level (Lmax) measured during the sample interval, and the Ll0, L50, L90, and Ll00, the sound level, above which N% of the data lie. The tripod was placed on the sidewalk to minimize reflections of sound off surrounding objects such as building or cars; the microphone was at an 80 degree angle to the ground surface. The operator stood a minimum of 1 meter behind the microphone during the 10-minute measurements.


Using the Albuquerque Zoning Code, sites zoned R-1, R-2, R-3, RA-2, R-D, MH, R-LT, SR, SU-1 were determined to be primarily residential areas. SU-2, and SU-3 areas were classified as residential/commercial. Sites zoned C-1, C-2, C-3, and O-1 were considered to be commercial sites. IP zoning is specific to industrial parks and M-1 zoning is specific to light manufacturing. The R-D zone was included in the residential zoning even though up to 15 percent of the area can be light commercial. The R-D zoned sites included in this study were more characteristic of residential areas than commercial areas. For definition of zones see Appendix H.

Using the above definition to classify the one hundred and one sites where noise levels were monitored, 71 measurements were from areas zoned residential, 11 were from areas zoned "residential/commercial," four were from areas zoned "manufacturing," one was in an industrial park, and 11 were from "commercial areas." The mean Leq of all zoning categories was 55.5 dB(A). The combined average Leq for commercial, industrial, and manufacturing is 62.2 dB(A), compared to the average Leq of 53.5 dB(A) for residential areas only (See Figure 6).

  Motor vehicle activity appears to be the most significant determinant of Leq. Of the 48 sites with Leq's higher than 55 dB(A), 54 percent had more than 20 cars pass during the 10 minute sampling period or were close enough to a major traffic source that traffic noise could be heard. Of the 13 sites with Leq of 65 or higher, 92 percent were near major traffic sources. The only site with a Leq reading higher than 65 dB(A) without a major traffic source had low flying aircraft fly over during monitoring.

Only 13.3 percent of commercial, industrial, manufacturing or residential/commercial sites had Leq lower than the 50 dB(A) and only 35 percent of residential sites had Leq lower than 50 dB(A), the level established in Albuquerque's noise ordinance. However, 65 percent of residential sites had Leq lower than 55 dB(A). Fifty-eight percent of the sites zoned commercial, industrial or manufacturing had a L100 higher than 55 db(A) indicating the sound level was never below 55 db(A) during the 10-minute monitoring period. Of the seven residential sites that had L100 greater than 55 db(A), five were located near major traffic zones and two were exposed to low flying aircraft.

Sources of identifiable ambient noise that impacted dB(A) levels were overhead aircraft at 46 sites, peoples' voices at 26 sites, dogs barking at 16 sites, and nearby construction at 14 sites. The site with the lowest Lmax during monitoring (Lmax of 43.4 dB(A)) was a residential site located in the North East heights. The highest Lmax measurements (Lmax of 97.9 dB(A)) was on a busy street in north east Albuquerque.


Because monitoring was conducted for ten minutes at each site these levels may not be representative of longer periods. Noise levels were not monitored at night, so this information should not be extrapolated to characterize night time hours. Seasonal or weather variations cannot be categorized by this data.


Working Group Recommendations

During a focus group held with CPD staff responsible for managing the noise control program, numerous difficulties were identified: most noise complaints occur after normal working hours or on weekends when AEHD staff are unavailable; many complaints are related to motor vehicles, over which AEHD has no jurisdiction; there is often an element of danger involved in investigating noise complaints (offenders may be intoxicated; staff have been verbally abused and threatened with physical injury); and AEHD staff feel they are not trained to handle volatile situations and do not have the capability to quickly summon help in such situations (Appendix 1).

Another problem identified in a 1995 AEHD report by Jim Beck, AEHD employee, is that noise complaints are assigned low priority status due to heavy workloads of CPD staff responsible for other public health issues such as food and waterborne illness. Data have shown that noise complaints increase in the summer months as does food and pool complaints which are also the responsibility of CPD staff.

Recommendations For Albuquerque, New Mexico

The AEHD is aware that noise has been identified as a leading cause of neighborhood dissatisfaction in both national and local studies (Housing and Urban Development [HUD], 1977; EPA, 1977a; EPA, 19816; AEHD, 1987). However, protecting Albuquerque citizens from noise has proven to be very difficult and expensive.

1. It is recommended that AEHD implement a policy that will provide dedicated personnel assigned to manage and oversee all noise issues. This will allow the noise control program to become proactive. Dedicated personnel will also increase the consistency and effectiveness with which noise issues are handled. The current system of 14 different individuals handling noise issues may send a message that noise is not as important as other issues currently handled by the AEHD Consumer Protection Division (CPD).

2. It is recommended that all commercial, and industrial building permit applications should be submitted to AEHD for review and evaluation of noise impact of proposed land use and suitability of zoning. Simple suggestions such as placing loading docks on the side of buildings away form residential areas could prevent future conflicts and can more easily be implemented before construction. Currently AEHD is reviewing building permits to determine whether Air Quality registration or issuance of air quality permit(s) should be submitted. Very little change in current procedure would be needed to include noise impact review of building permits.

3. It is recommended that AEHD work in partnership with the Albuquerque Police Department to provide noise protection to the citizens of Albuquerque. In this partnership, AEHD will assign staff with the primary duty involving the administration and enforcement of the noise ordinance. The designated noise staff would be responsible for administration of the noise control program. This would include, but not be limited to:

The Albuquerque Police Department responsibilities under this partnership would include:

There are several advantages of this partnership:

In addition to the above listed advantages APD:

The partnership between AEHD and APD to address noise is consistent with APD community policing strategic goals and core values as established in the Albuquerque Police Department FY/96-FY/98 Strategic Plan the Transition to Community Policing. Strategic Goal A, Improve quality of life: "The quality of life of citizens and police department employees alike is important to improve." Faster resolution to noise complaint situations will have a direct impact on the quality of life of the citizens of Albuquerque.

Strategic Goal B, Protect life and property: "the department will organize and manage its resources and workload to ensure that we most effectively prevent criminal activity. "Through a partnership with AEHD and APD, resources from both departments can be maximized and utilized more effectively. The use of Police Service Aids that can quickly respond to non-emergency calls such as noise complaints is an effective use of resources. Unlike AEHD staff, Police Service Aides are available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, have the training to recognize a potential dangerous situation and the capability to readily summon help in emergency situations. AEHD staff have the expertise and training to provide administrative functions of protecting citizens from the annoyance and negative health effects of noise.

Strategic Goal C. Maintain order: "A basic responsibility for the police is to ensure that citizens can enjoy the benefits of life, free from fear of dangerous activity by unruly people" It is common knowledge that often noise complaints are against individuals who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The police having the authority to investigate noisy situations or stop loud rioter vehicles may be the necessary intervention to prevent situations from escalating.

Strategic Goal D. Reduce Crime through Education and Prevention: "Citizens and police employees can best work together when information is shared and proactive measures are used to reduce criminal activity." Currently APD officers and community members are being trained in mediating neighborhood disputes involving loud music and other sources of annoyances (Jones, 1997). AEHD has been using a proactive approach to address problems for the past two decade. Utilizing the expertise and experience of both the AEHD and APD a community educational program can be developed with more depth than a program developed by one department alone.

Strategic Goal E. Cooperate with citizens: "Success in all police missions depends on working closely with the responsible citizens of Albuquerque." Because the AEHD relate very differently and are perceived differently than APD by citizens, the two departments will complement one another in fostering citizen cooperation.

Strategic Goal F. Uphold the constitution and laws of the United States, the State of New Mexico and the City of Albuquerque: Both departments have the responsibility to ensure that City ordinances are enforced to ensure safety and quality of life for citizens of Albuquerque. This can more effectively be done by combining resources and preventing redundancies of services by developing a partnership between APD and AEHD.

4. It is recommended that Albuquerque's residential levels be increased to the EPA recommended level of 55 dB(A). Commercial and industrial levels should be increased to 60 dB(A) or 65 dB(A), depending on zoning in adjacent areas, to minimize impact on residential areas (Table 5.). The current noise ordinance establishes the allowable nuisance level to be no greater than 50 dB(A) or 10 dB(A) above ambient. This regulation is difficult to enforce for many reasons, one of which is the difficulty in establishing "ambient" levels. Also, 50 dB(A) may no longer be realistic in a community with a population of 412,000 people. In addition to the previous mentioned difficulties, some of Albuquerque's residential and commercial/industrial areas are frequently interspersed. This mingling of land uses is often the subject of disagreement and dissatisfaction between residents and businesses.

Table 5

Proposed dB Levels of Zoning

Zoning Source Zoning of Adjacent Property
Residential Residential/Commercial Commercial/Industrial
Residential 55 dB(A) 60 dB(A) 60 dB(A)
Residential/Commercial 60 dB(A) 60 dB(A) 60 dB(A)
Commercial/Industrial 60 dB(A) 60 dB(A) 65 dB(A)

This recommendation takes into account the residents' need for quiet and also the business limitations in providing a quiet environment while still conducting business. This plan uses zoning at the point of the noise source and zoning of the neighbors who are impacted by the noise to determine a more realistic standard. This plan would ensure that quiet businesses would locate near residential areas. Noisier businesses may prefer to locate farther away from residential areas in order to avoid the added expense of noise reduction.

No other city in our survey had established residential noise levels as low as 50 dB(A). Our limited sampling of noise levels in Albuquerque suggests that 50 dB(A) is not realistic for commercial and industrial areas where the average Leq was 62.2 or residential areas where the mean Leq was 53.5.

5. It is recommended to modify the current noise ordinance to address noise resulting from loading and unloading of trucks, dynamic braking devices, truck idling, motor, vehicle sound amplification equipment, and car alarms. Proposed additions to the current noise ordinance based on complaints analyzed and focus group discussions with AEHD CPD staff are:

Loading and Unloading: No person shall cause or allow loading, unloading, closing or other handling of boxes, crates, containers, building materials, garbage cans or similar objects between the hours of 10:00 pm to 7:00 am the following day in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential property boundary or within a noise-sensitive zone except in an emergency situation.

Dynamic Braking Devices: No person shall cause or allow the operation of any motor vehicle with a dynamic braking device engaged within 200 feet of a residential zoned area, noise-sensitive area, or posted area except ion the avoidance of imminent danger.

Truck Idling: No person shall operate or allow the operation of an engine of any standing motor vehicle with a weight exceeding ten thousand (10,000) pounds Manufacturer's Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) for a period in excess often minutes when such vehicle is parked on a residential property or in such a manner as to cause a noise disturbance across a residential property boundary or within a noise-sensitive zone except in an emergency situation.

Motor Vehicles Sound Amplification Equipment: No person shall operate or be in possession of a motor vehicle with a GAW rating of 10,000 pounds or less which is stopped, standing, or moving in which sound amplification equipment alone or in combination with the normal operation noise of the vehicle will exceed 76 dB(A) at speeds of 40 mph or less or 82 dB(A) when at speeds of 40 mph or more, measured 50 feet from the center of the path.

Car Alarm: No person shall operate or allow the operation of a horn, security alarm or other auditory signaling device in any vehicle for a period of time longer than five minutes cumulative in 24 hours except as required by law or to provide a warning signal.

6. It is recommended that a more intense noise survey of the city be conducted that measures both day and night ambient noise levels, along with various seasonal levels to more accurately characterize Albuquerque's noise level. This survey could also provide baseline data to compare effectiveness of future noise control efforts.

7. It is recommended that a public education program be established to provide information on noise reduction and the role of the City in controlling noise reduction. Although scientific evidence indicates that ambient noise is a significant environmental health hazard, health policies are seldom based solely on scientific evidence. Public perception, economic interests, cultural, religious, dud political values often have more influence on public policy than science (Gordis, 1988). Because of the importance public perception has on determining public policy, it is crucial that individuals and communities become involved with local governments in the decision-making process concerning ambient noise.


Albuquerque Environmental Health Department [AEHD] (1987). Survey on Public Perception of Noise in Albuquerque. (Available form Albuquerque Environmental Health Department, Consumer Protection Division, 1 Civic Plaza Albuquerque, NM 87103).

Alexandre, A., & Barde, J. P. (1991). Deaf ears on noise pollution? The OECD Observer 167, 23-26.

Alvord, L. S. (1988). Annoyance factors for common neighborhood (stationary) noise. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 84(2), 780-781.

Angus, R. (1994). Sounds raising a ruckus about noise it threatens your hearing and your health. OMNI 16(5), 18.

Bequette, F. (1994). Greenwatch defeating decibels. The UNESCO Courier 47(6), 23-25.

Castleman, M. (1992). Now hear this. Sierra. 77(2), 25-26.

Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Perspectives in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, March 28, 1986. MMWR 1986; 35(12).

Department of Health and Human Services. (1988). Proposed National Strategy for the Prevention of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. (DHHS) (NIOSH) Publication No. 89-135). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Environmental Protection Agency. (1971). Community Noise. Washington, DC: Office of Noise Abatement and Control.

Environmental Protection Agency. (1974). Information on Levels of Environmental Noise Requisite to Protect Public Health and Welfare With an Adequate Margin of Safety. Washington, DC: US EPA

Environmental Protection Agency. (1977). The Urban Noise Survey. Washington, DC: Office of Noise Abatement and Control.

Environmental Protection Agency. (1978). Noise: a Health Problem, Washington, DC: Office of Noise Abatement and Control.

Environmental Protection Agency. (1979). The Environmental Frontier: Noise Control. Washington, DC: Office of Noise Abatement and Control.

Appendix A
Cities contacted for noise program survey

San Antonio, TX Code Compliance
Ruben Costillo
(210) 207-8228
935,393 Y
El Paso, TX Environmental Health
Arturo Huerta
(915) 543-3612
579,307 Y
Denver, CO Environmental Health
Tom Cowan
(303) 640-3335
493,559 Y
Cleveland, OH City Archives
Martin Hauserman
(216) 664-3054
492,901 N
Oklahoma City, OK Legal Department
Robert Pulles
(405) 297-2451
463,201 N
Fort Worth, TX Ordnance Compliance
Charles Spencer
(817) 871-6330
451,814 N
Portland, OR Building Bureau
Paul Van Orden
(503) 823-7350
451,777 Y
Kansas City, MO Community Environmental Health
Kevin Wills
(816) 472-0361
443,878 Y
Charlotte, NC Police Department
James Londerde
(704) 336-3229
437,797 Y
Tucson, AZ City Clerk's Office
(520) 791-5414
434,726 N
Long Beach, CA Environmental Health
Diana Shinn
(562) 570-4126
433,852 Y
Albuquerque, NM Environmental Health
Richard Mitzelfelt
(505) 768-2600
411,994 Y
Atlanta, GA Mayor's Office
(404) 330-6100
396,052 N
Fresno, CA Development Department
Sunchi Koo
(209) 498-2692
386,551 N
Tulsa, OK City Clerk Office
Cheryl Van Skike
(918) 596-2307
374,851 N
Sacramento, CA Code Enforcement
Tammy Browning
(916) 264-8185
373,964 N
Miami, FL Pollution Control
(305) 372-6789
373,024 N
St Louis, MO St Louis City Department of Health
Valda Croskey
(314) 854-6934
368,215 N
Oakland, CA Planning and Building
Ray Derania
(510) 238-4780
366,976 N
Pittsburgh, PA Mayor's Office
(412) 255-2138
358,883 N
Toledo, OH Environmental Department
Bill Garber
(419) 697-5101
322,550 Y
Colorado Springs, CO Zoning
Russ McQuillen
(719) 578-6919
316,480 N
Mesa, AZ Mayor's Office
Sonia Trevizo
(602) 644-2309
313-649 N
Buffalo, NY Legal Department
Darrell McPhearson
(716) 851-4841
312,965 N
Salt Lake City, UT Environmental Health
Diane Keay
(801) 944-6644
159,936* Y
Las Cruces, NM Code Enforcement
Alma Cortez
(505) 527-6157
62,126* Y
Santa Fe, NM Planning and Land Use
Jack Barela
(505) 984-6653
53,859* Y
Roswell, NM Mayor's Office
(505) 624-6700
44,260* N
Clovis, NM Inspection Office
(505) 769-7828
30,954* N
Alamogordo, NM City Clerk's Office
Teresa Gutierrez
(505) 439-4230
27,596* N

* 1990 Census as reported in Population The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1997. Robert Fanighitti (ed).

Population data are 1994 census estimates published in The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1997. Robert Fanighitti (ed).

Appendix D.
Comparison of City Ordinances

City dB(A) Night Hours Sources Addressed in Ordinances
Albuquerque, NM 50 dB(A) or 10 dB(A) above ambient 10:00 pm - 7:00 am amplifying equipment: plainly audible within a dwelling;
  • sound amplifying equipment
  • drums and bells
  • schools, hospitals, churches & libraries
  • machinery, equipment fans & air conditioners
  • vehicle repairs
  • aircraft engine noise

San Antonio, TX residential: 63 dB(A);
business: 70 dB(A);
industrial: 72 dB(A);
construction: 80 dB(A);
entertainment: two hour weighted mean exceeding 85 dB(A);
11:00 pm - 6:00 am
  • sound amplifying equipment
  • vociferous language
  • animals
  • horn except as warning
  • engines must have mufflers
  • advertising
  • raucous shouting, whistling, etc...
  • vibration: to be aware or visually see movement
Portland, OR plainly audible in a dwelling during night time hours;
residential to residential
55 dB(A)
residential to commercial
60 dB(A)
residential to industrial
65 dB(A)
commercial to commercial 70 dB(A)
commercial to industrial
70 dB(A)
industrial to industrial
75 dB(A)
night time levels are reduced by 5dB(A);
10:00 pm - 7:00 am
construction prohibited
6:00 pm - 7:00 am (Mon-Sat), and legal holidays;
sound producing or reproducing equipment: if plainly audible within a dwelling or audible 50 feet from source if on public property; narrow band or steady sound decrease by 5 dB(A); domestic power tools: < 5 HP 80 dB(A) > 5HP 85 dB(A)
power tools used in home occupation 50 dB(A);
water craft: 75 dB(A) days 65 dB(A) nights measured on shore; motor vehicle racing
Oakland, CA cumulative number of minutes during 1 hour Residential:
20 = 60 am, 45 pm
10 = 65 am, 50 pm
5 = 70 am, 55 pm
0 = 80 am, 65 pm
20 = 65 anytime
10 = 70 anytime
5 = 75 anytime
1 = 80 anytime
0 = 85 anytime
20 = 70 anytime
10 = 75 anytime
5 = 80 anytime
1 = 80 anytime
0 = 85 anytime
10:00 pm - 7:00 am
Construction: prohibited 7:00 pm-7:00 am (Mon-Fri) 8:00 pm - 9:00 am (Sat-Sun)
construction residential: < 10 days 80 dB(A) weekdays, 65 dB(A) weekends, > 10 days 65 dB(A) weekdays 70 dB(A) weekends
commercial, industrial: < 10 days 85 dB(A) weekdays 70 dB(A) weekends > 10 days 70 dB(A) weekdays, 60 dB(A) between 10:00 pm - 7:00 am, no perception of vibration;
vibration: perceptible without instruments; mechanical or electronic devices, vehicular attachments, advertisement, animals, emergency signaling device other than emergency; emergency signaling devices testing prohibited 7:00 pm - 7:00 am and not exceed 60 sec.; testing of emergency signaling system and personnel response is prohibited 10:00 pm - 7:00 am more than once a month; non emergency signaling devices limited to 10 sec/hour;
burglar or fire alarm: limited to 15 min;
loading or unloading restricted 9:00 pm - 6:00 am;
domestic power tools: prohibited 9:00 pm - 6:00 am;
Long Beach, CA residential:
45 dB(A) pm
50 dB(A) am
55 dB(A) pm
60 dB(A) am
light industrial:
65 dB(A) anytime
70 dB(A) anytime
10:00 pm - 7:00 am
Construction prohibited:
7:00 pm - 7:00 am Mon-Thur, 7:00 pm Fri - 9:00 am Sat, 5:00 pm sat - 7:00 am Mon.
vibration: perceptible by sensation or visual movement;
amplified noise, street sales, animals, loading and unloading, explosives, powered model vehicles, non emergency signaling devices, emergency signaling device except except for emergency; domestic power tools prohibited 10:00 pm - 7:00 am;
motor, machinery, pump etc, must be enclosed;
leaf blowers, prohibited between 8:00 pm - 7:00 am Mon-Thur, 7:00 pm Fri - 9:00 am Sat. 5:00 pm Sat - 11:00 am Sunday 5:00 pm Sun - 7:00 am Mon;
air conditioner 55 dB(A);
In places of public entertainment: 8 hours = 85 dB(A), 6 hours = 86 dB(A), 4 hours = 88 dB(A), 3 hours = 89 dB(A), 2 hours = 91 dB(A), 1 hour = 94 dB(A), ½ hour = 97 dB(A), ¼ hour = 100 dB(A), warning must be posted; refuse collection, motor vehicle horn except in warning, vehicle, motorboat, aircraft repair or testing, recreational motorized vehicles on public right away;
Buffalo, NY noise that annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, health, peace or safety Construction prohibited: 9:00 pm - 7:00 am; Domestic tools prohibited 9:00 pm - 7:00 am; sound reproduction device, yelling, drum, loudspeaker, horn longer than 5 min, vehicle without muffler, air conditioners, animals, unreasonable noise;
Colorado Springs, CO residential:
55 dB(A) am - 50 dB(A) pm
60 dB(A) am - 55 dB(A) pm
light industrial 60 dB(A) am - 65 dB(A) pm
industrial: 80 dB(A) am - 75 dB(A) pm
7:00 pm - 7:00 am sound amplification within a vehicle that can be heard without use of electronic measurement device;
noise is measured 25 feet from source on public right away;
between 7:00 am - 7:00 pm noise can be increased by 10 dB(A) for 15 min during a hour;
periodic, impulsive, or shrill noises decrease by 5 dB(A);
Salt Lake City, UT residential: 50 dB(A) pm 55 dB(A) am
55 dB(A) pm
60 dB(A) am
75 dB(A) pm
80 dB(A) am
10:00 pm - 7:00 am
prohibited 10:00 pm - 7:00 am
horns and signaling devices; radios, TV musical instruments etc. prohibited between 10:00 pm - 7:00 am plainly audible at property line or at 50 feet from source on public property; loudspeakers, hawkers, peddlers, animals;
loading or unloading prohibited between 10:00 pm - 7:00 am;
domestic power equipment: 74 dB(A) at 50 feet from source;
domestic power equipment: 74 dB(A) at 50 feet from source;
enclosed place of public entertainment 100 dB(A) with warning sign;
fireworks, explosives, racing events, powered model mechanical devices, dynamic braking devices, defect in vehicle, bells, alarms;
garbage collecting prohibited at night compacting of refuse 74 dB(A) at 50 feet;
idling motor vehicle max of 15 min consecutively; recreational vehicles or snowmobiles, 82 dB(A) above allowed limit for more than 10 min;
for cycling varying, pure tone or repetitive impulsive sound limits are reduced by 5 dB(A);
Toledo, OH residential:
RA, RB, R1, R2A:
55 dB(A) pm
60 dB(A) am;
R3, R4, R4A, R5:
60 dB(A) pm
65 dB(A) am;
commercial C1, C2, C3, C4, M3:
65 dB(A) pm
70 dB(A) am
industrial M1:
70 dB(A) anytime
75 dB(A) anytime
9:00 pm - 7:00 am
Construction: 10:00 pm - 6:00 am within a residential area or 500 feet of quiet zone;
musical instrument, radios, swimming pools, animals;
loading or unloading: 7dB(A) over allowable limit, prohibited 9:00 pm - 7:00 am;
domestic power equipment: prohibited between 9:00 pm - 8:00 am weekdays, 9:00 pm - 9:00 am weekends and legal holidays, snow blowers are exempt;
vehicles or non-stationary source: 7 dB(A) over limit for more than 5 min;
construction equipment: 90 dB(A);
waste disposal: 500 feet of residential area, 80 dB(A) 9:00 pm - 7:00 am, 82 dB(A) 7:00 am - 9:00 pm;
amplified sound: 500 feet of residential, prohibited 9:00 pm - 8:00 am for both commercial and non-commercial, not audible at 200 feet from source, vibration;
St. Louis County, MO duration of time in minutes permitted during period of measurement residential, day:
60 - 55 dB(A)
30 - 56-58 dB(A)
15 - 59-61 dB(A)
8 - 62-64 dB(A)
4 - 65-67 dB(A)
2 - 68-70 dB(A)
0 - >71 dB(A)
night time:
60 - 50 dB(A)
30 - 51-53 dB(A)
15 - 54-56 dB(A)
8 - 57-59 dB(A)
4 - 60-62 dB(A)
2 - 63-65 dB(A)
0 - >66 dB(A);
commercial: add 10 dB(A) to residential for both day and night;
light industrial:
add 15 dB(A) to daytime residential;
heavy industrial: add 25 dB(A) to daytime residential;
10:00 pm - 7:00 am vibration: at property line;
Pittsburgh, PA noise amplification equipment in a vehicle:
85 dB(A) at 50 feet from source;
stationary amplification equipment: 85 dB(A) at 100 feet beyond property line in residential areas;
vendors are prohibited from using sound to attract attention;
Santa Fe, NM Residential: 55 dB(A)
Commercial: 60 dB(A)
Industrial, Agricultural: 75 dB(A)
9:00 pm - 7:00 am decrease allowable levels 5 dB(A) Use of loudspeaker for advertising;
motor vehicle noise.
Tulsa, OK 11:00 pm - 7:00 am signaling devices, animals, mufflers, mechanical devices operated by compressed air without muffler, playing of music on public property; radios, phonographs, & musical instruments, restricted 11:00 pm - 7:00 am
Tucson, AZ residential:
70 dB(A) days
62 dB(A) night;
72 dB(A) days
65 dB(A) night;
85 dB(A) days
70 dB(A) night;
10:00 pm - 7:00 am continuous or intermittent noise the persist for 15 minutes; loading or unloading, animals, shouting or yelling;
Kansas City, MO residential:
60 dB(A) days
55 dB(A) night
commercial/light industrial:
80 dB(A)
10:00 pm - 7:00 am aircraft: 65 dB(A);
animals, domestic power tools, firearms;
loading and unloading: prohibited 7:00 pm - 7:00 am;
loudspeakers or public address systems: prohibited 7:00 pm - 7:00 am; places of public entertainment: 85 dB(A) and warning sign;
powered model vehicles, racing events;
radios, TV's etc: 50 feet from source in public areas, restricted on public transit;
security alarms: in excess of 15 min in residential areas or 30 min in non residential areas;
mufflers, activation of horn except emergencies;
refuse collection prohibited 8:00 pm - 7:00 am
Denver, CO residential:
50 dB(A) night
55 dB(A) day
60 dB(A) night
65 dB(A) day
75 dB(A) night
80 dB(A) day
public property:
70 dB(A) night
75 dB(A) day
10:00 pm - 7:00 am
prohibited 10:00 pm - 7:00 am
vehicle horns, exhaust discharge, trash compacting or collection, mufflers animals, loud human voices;
idling trucks: >10,000 lbs in excess of 10 minutes;
sound amplification: plainly audible;
El Paso, TX residential:
50 dB(A) night
55 dB(A) day
60 dB(A) night
65 dB(A) day
65 dB(A) night
70 dB(A) day
cumulative period noise:
15 min add 5 dB(A);
5 min add 10 dB(A);
1 min add 15 dB(A);
any time period add 20 dB(A);
10:00 pm - 7:00 am amplified sound, loudspeaker, PA system, animals, loading or unloading;
place of public entertainment: 85 dB(A) with warning sign;
vibration: perceptible with out instruments
Bernillo County, NM Residential:
45 dB(A) night
55 dB(A) day
70 dB(A) anytime
other zones:
80 dB(A) anytime;
sunset to sunrise
prohibited 10:00 pm - 7:00 am
amplified sound: prohibited
10:00 pm - 8:00 am, only music or human speech, not to exceed 15 dB(A) above ambient;
prima facie violation: 5 dB(A) over ambient at property line or adjoining apartment;
advertising, drums, animals;
machinery, equipment, fans, air conditioner: 5dB(A) over ambient;
aircraft: 90 dB(A);
jet engine testing: 50 dB(A), and prohibited 10:00 pm - 7:00 am;
Las Cruces, NM horn or signaling devices in non-emergency situation;
pounding on metal object except during construction;
mufflers, radios, phonographs, loudspeakers, amplifiers, yelling, and animals;

Appendix E

Comparison of Motor Vehicles Regulations Established in City Ordinances

City Motor Vehicles
Albuquerque, NM A motor vehicle shall not exceed the following standards measured 50 feet from center of vehicle path, at any time or under any condition of grade, load, acceleration or deceleration:
GVW of 8,000 lbs.: < 41 mph 86 dB(A) > 40 mph 90 dB(A);
motorcycle: < 41 mph 82 dB(A) > 40 mph 86 dB(A);
any other motor vehicle: < 41 mph 76 dB(A) > 40 mph 82 dB(A);
no vehicle less than 6,000 lbs except motorcycles can exceed 95 dB(A) measured at 25 ft from side of vehicle;
no person shall offer for sale a recreational vehicle that exceeds 88 dB(A) at 50 ft from center of vehicle path;
no motor vehicle operated off a public right-of-way can exceed 82 dB(A)
San Antonio, TX motor vehicles are exempted in ordinance
Portland, OR at not time or under any condition of grade, load, acceleration or deceleration shall a motor vehicle exceed limits established by C.F.R., 202, 1986;
must have muffler;
greater noise than reasonably necessary is prohibited;
no operation of a motor vehicle with an exhaust system cutout, bypass or other device;
no squealing, screeching of tires due to rapid acceleration or excessive speed; no vehicle > 9,999 can engage a dynamic braking system in any residential zone, 200 ft of any dwelling unit, school, hospital, or library.
Long Beach, CA Recreational motorized vehicles operating off public right-of-way will not exceed standards established for various land used areas.
Buffalo, NY not addressed
Colorado Springs, CO not addressed
Salt Lake City, UT No vehicle shall exceed the following limits measured at 25 ft for the near side of the nearest land being monitored and at the height of 4 ft. above the surrounding surface: GVW > 9,999 < 41 mph 90 dB(A) > 40 mph 94 dB(A) all other vehicles, < 41 mph 80 dB(A) > 40 mph 84 dB(A);
must have muffler free from defects, cut-out, bypass or similar device.
Toledo, OH No motor vehicle shall exceed established noise limits at any time or under any condition of load, acceleration or deceleration measured 50 ft from center line of travel:
GVW of > 9,999 lbs manufactured before January 1, 1976 < 36 mph 88 dB(A) > 35 mph 90 dB(A);
manufactured after January 1, 1976 < 36 mph 86 dB(A) > 35 mph 90 dB(A);
GVW of < 10,000 lbs. < 36 mph 76 dB(A) > 35 mph 90 dB(A)
motorcycle: < 36 mph 82 dB(A) > 35 mph 86 dB(A);
snowmobiles, minibikes, go-carts and other off road vehicles must not exceed 82 dB(A)
St. Louis County, MO not addressed
Pittsburgh, PA not addressed
Oakland, CA not addressed
Tulsa, OK not addressed
Tucson, AZ no unnecessary grating, grinding, rattling or other noise;
mufflers required, no cutout, bypass or similar device
Kansas City, MO GVW > 9,999 lbs: soft site < 36 mph, 82 dB(A), > 35 mph, 86 dB(A); hard site: < 36 mph, 84 dB(A); > 35 mph, 88 dB(A); stationary run-up test: soft site 82 dB(A), hard site 84 dB(A); GVW < 10,000 lbs: soft site < 36 mph, 76 dB(A), > 35 mph, 80 dB(A); hard site; < 36 mph, 78 dB(A), > 35 mph, 82 dB(A); stationary run-up test: soft site 76 dB(A); hard site; 78 dB(A).
motorcycle: soft site < 36 mph, 82 dB(A), > 35 mph 86 dB(A); hard site: < 36 mph, 84 dB(A), > 35 mph, 88 dB(A); stationary run-up test: soft site 82 dB(A), hard site 84 dB(A);
unaltered mufflers required;
racing events and model vehicles exempted
Denver, CO No motor vehicle shall exceed established noise limits at any time or under any condition of acceleration, deceleration, idle, grade, or load measured at 25 feet from vehicle.
GVW < 10,001 lbs any time: 80 dB(A);
GVW > 10,000 7:00 am - 10:00 pm: 88 dB(A), 10:00 pm - 7:00 am: 80 dB(A) on streets not permitting heavy vehicle traffic; 88 dB(A) on streets and highways designated fro heavy vehicle traffic; must have muffler no cut-outs, bypasses or other devices allowed
El Paso, TX No motor vehicle shall exceed established noise limits measured at 50 ft
GVW > 9,999 lbs engaged in interstate commerce: < 36 mph, 86 dB(A), > 35 mph 90 dB(A);
stationary run-up: 88 dB(A);
all other vehicles GVW > 9,999 lbs: < 36 mph 70 dB(A), > 35 mph 79 dB(A);
motorcycle < 36 mph, 78 dB(A), > 35 mph 82 dB(A);
any motor vehicle towed by any other vehicle < 36 mph 70 dB(A), > 35 mph 79 dB(A);
mufflers required;
vehicles with GVW > 9,999 or auxiliary equipment can not run longer than 2 minutes in any hour while vehicle is stationary within 150 ft of a residential area or designate noise sensitive zone;
recreational motorized vehicles operating off public right-of-way can not exceed 82 dB(A) if manufactured prior to January 1, 1975, and 73 dB(A) if manufactured after January 1, 1975 measured at 50 ft
Bernalillo County, NM vehicles in excess of 8,000 lbs cannot run for a consecutive period longer than 2 minutes while vehicle is stationary within 150 ft of residential property except when delivering perishable foods or pouring concrete, or emergency maintenance work;
no motor vehicles including motorcycles, or vehicle weighing 8,000 lbs or passenger car manufactured after January 1, 1980 shall exceed 75 dB(A), measured at 50 ft during test procedures;
No motor vehicle shall exceed established noise limits at any time or under any condition of acceleration, deceleration, grade, or load measured at 50 ft from vehicle.
GVW of > 7,999 manufactured before January 1, 1973 < 36 mph 88 dB(A) > 35 mph 90 dB(A), manufactured after January 1, 1973 < 36 mph 86 dB(A) > 35 mph 90 dB(A);
motorcycle manufactured before January 1, 1973: < 36 mph 82 dB(A) > 35 mph 86 dB(A), manufactured after January 1, 1973: < 36 mph 78 dB(A) > 35 mph 82 dB(A);
motorcycle manufactured before January 1, 1973: < 36 mph 82 dB(A) > 35 mph 86 dB(A), manufactured after January 1, 1973: < 36 mph 78 dB(A) > 35 mph 82 dB(A);
any combination of motor vehicles towed: manufactured before January 1, 1973: < 36 mph 76 dB(A) > 35 mph 82 dB(A);
manufactured after January 1, 1973: < 36 mph 70 dB(A) > 35 mph 79 dB(A);
No motor vehicle can be offered for sale if it exceeds the established limits measured at 50 ft. from center line of travel;
snowmobiles manufactured after June 1, 1997, 86 dB(A);
any other vehicle including dunebuggy, or all-terrain-vehicle, go-cart, or minibike manufactured after January 1, 1995;
mufflers required without modification: 73 dB(A);
vehicles not required to be registered for road use and manufactured after January 1, 1992 can exceed 82 dB(A).
Santa Fe, NM measured 25 feet from the near side of the nearest lane being monitored at a height of 4 ft:
GVW of 10,000 lbs.: < 46 mph 90 dB(A) > 45 mph 94 dB(A);
any other motor vehicle: < 46 mph 77 dB(A) > 45 mph 81 dB(A);
mufflers required, no cut-out, bypass or similar device allowed
Las Cruces, NM mufflers required

* GVW Gross Vehicle Weight

Appendix F
Descriptions of Noise Control Programs

Albuquerque, NM:

Albuquerque's noise program is part of Albuquerque's Environmental Health Department. Currently there are fourteen staff members, spending 9.5 percent of their time on noise issues. Albuquerque receives an average of four noise complaints weekly, with the complaints increasing during warm months and decreasing during winter months. The current budget of $80,655 is through general funding.

San Antonio, TX:

The San Antonio, Texas noise program is part of the City's "Fear Free Environment Program". This program is a division of the City's Code Compliance Department. San Antonio currently employs six police officers who investigate all environmental crimes such as illegal dumping, storing of hazardous materials, oil spills, and first response for hazardous materials spills along with noise complaints. Ruben Castillo of code compliance estimates that 45 percent of the officers' time is spent responding to the weekly average of 70 noise complaints. Officers work split shift to ensure almost around the clock coverage; occasionally there are three hours between 3:00 am and 6:00 am that no officer is on duty. Along with investigating environmental crimes, these officers are involved with an active public education program and feel that the increase of noise complaints is a direct result of the public being more informed, not only about noise issues but also other environmental issues. San Antonio is currently planning to increase the number of officers to twelve for this program. The current budget is $350,000.

El Paso, TX:

El Paso's noise program is part of the Environmental Health Department. Currently El Paso employs twelve individuals who spend approximately 3 percent of their time on noise issues. Arturo Heurta of Environmental Health estimates that he receives an average of one noise complaint a week with the rate increasing during summer months and decreasing during the winter months. The current budget for noise is estimated at $5,000 and is appropriated through general funding.

Denver, CO:

Denver's Noise program is part of Denver's Environmental Protection Division. Currently Denver has one dedicated individual who estimates that he spends about 55 percent of his time on noise issues. Denver's funding is appropriated through general funding; the current budget is estimated to be approximately $60,000 a year.

Portland, OR:

Portland's noise program is part of Portland's Building Bureau. Portland currently employs one employee full time and has in the past hired a temporary full-time employee during the summer months to assist with the increase of complaints. Due to budget restraints, this temporary employee may not be hired this summer. The current budget is $60,000, half is appropriated through general funding and half is generated through fees for special event permits and other building permits. Along with the 350 noise complaints filed each year, Portland's noise program receives 7,561 calls concerning noise issues.

Kansas City, MO:

Kansas City's noise program is a division of the Community Environmental Health Department. It currently employs three staff members who spend approximately 33 percent of their time on noise issues. The current budget is $59,000. Kansas City receives an estimated 15 noise complaints a week for industrial and residential noise. Construction noise or noise from moving cars are not addressed in the current noise ordinance. Upon receiving a complaint, a written notice is mailed to the offender. Upon receipt of the second compliant, an on-site visit is made and decibel readings are taken. If the noise level exceeds allowable limits, a warning is issued. Upon a third complaint, equipment is impounded for evidence and responsible parties are arrested.

Charlotte, NC:

Charlotte's noise program is unique in that it is entirely through the Police Department. All police are trained in measuring noise decibels and are equipped with decibel meters. If the noise is found to exceed allowable limits, a $100 fine is issued and must be paid within fifteen days; no appeals are allowed. The Charlotte Police Department handles all noise complaints, including residential, and industrial.

Long Beach, CA:

Long Beach's noise program is part of the Cities' Environmental Health Department. It receives approximately ten complaints a week with about 94 percent of these complaints from residential sources. Currently, there are two staff members spending an estimated 15 percent of their time each on noise issues. Funding is through general funding for the Environmental Health Department.

Toledo, OH:

Toledo's noise program is through its Environment Department. Currently, there are three staff members spending approximately 7 percent of their time on noise issues. It is estimated that Toledo receives a average of two noise complaints weekly. Budget for the noise program is through general funding for the Environment Department and is not broken down specifically by noise.

Salt Lake City, UT:

Salt Lake City's noise program is part of the City's Environmental Health Department. Currently, the majority of noise complaints are a result of the increase of construction that is occurring in Salt Lake City as consequence of preparation for the 1998 Olympics. Salt Lake City has one staff member dedicated to the noise program for 75 percent of the time to handle noise complaints. It is estimated that Salt Lake City receives an average of two noise complaints weekly with an increase during the summer months. Salt Lake City's police also respond to noise complaints and have all jurisdiction of noise from moving vehicles. Funding for the noise program is appropriated as part of the general funding of the Environmental Health Department's budget.

Santa Fe, NM:

Santa Fe's noise program is through the Planning and Land Use Department. Currently there are five staff members who spend approximately 10 percent of their time on noise issues. It is estimated that Santa Fe receives an average of three noise complaints weekly.

Las Cruces, NM:

Las Cruces' noise program is through the Code Enforcement Department. Currently there are seven staff members spending approximately 1 percent of their time on noise issues. Las Cruces receives an average of 1 noise complaint weekly.

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