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Although environmental noise has always been a concern, noise is not regulated to the same degree as are other environmental issues.  At the Federal level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has in the past set forth guidelines for noise levels that it feels are adequate to protect human health and welfare, but it does not currently regulate general environmental noise.  However, environmental noise from mobile sources, such as highways, airports, and railroads, is regulated at the Federal level by U.S. Department of Transportation.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) sets forth guidlines for acceptable noise levels for federally-funded highway projects.  The FHWA guidelines are interpreted by the State Highway Agencies (SHAs) and may vary from those set forth by the FHWA.  Noise from airport expansion projects is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and noise from rail & transit projects is regulated by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).  Each one of these agencies (the FHWA, the FAA, and the FTA) has set forth its own standards, methods, and computer models for the assessment and mitigation of noise. Other federal agencies, such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have established guidelines and criteria for determining land-use noise impacts.  Air & Noise Compliance is well-versed in all of these regulations and methodologies for evaluating noise from highways, airports, and railroads.

At the State level, only a handful of states across the country regulate noise from stationary sources such as businesses, industries, and utilities.  In New England, Massachusetts regulates noise from new or modified stationary sources as part of its air quality permitting program.  The Massachusetts noise regulations state that a new source of noise shall not increase ambient noise levels by 10 dBA or more.  In addition, the source shall not produce a pure tone; a pure tone occurs when the noise levels in any one frequency band exceed those in the adjacent frequency bands by 3 dB or more.  Pure tones, such as the whistling of steam from a vent, can cause annoyance even at relatively low decibel levels.  The state of Maine also maintains noise regulations for new stationary facilities as part of its State siting law.  Air & Noise Compliance can assist businesses in determining which regulations are applicable to their operation.

In addition to the Federal and State regulations described above, some cities and towns maintain a noise ordinance.  Often, noise ordinances are very general and qualitative in nature, making them difficult to require lower noise emissions from facilities. They are practical for discouraging excessive noise from an after-hours party, but are not suitable for specifying acceptable and appropriate noise levels for a new business or facility that may be opening in a community.  Air & Noise Compliance is making a pioneering effort in assisting community leaders with the development of quantitative and enforceable noise ordinances, believing that economic growth in our communities can occur in conjunction with an acceptable environment.