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What Is the Noise Control Act?

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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2014
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The Noise Pollution and Abatement Act, better known as the Noise Control Act, is a United States statute established in 1972 to regulate noise pollution for the purpose of protecting public health, safety and ease. The act led to the creation of the Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC) to oversee implementation, as well as function as a division of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This act is codified as 42 U.S.C. Secs. 4901 to 4918.

The idea for the statute arose as a response to the growing concern of noise pollution that come from products used in the commerce sector. These included transportation motor vehicles and equipment, industrial appliances and heavy machinery. The act demands that the ONAC coordinate research on noise pollution, set noise emission standards for noise-emitting products and make such information available to the public. Manufacturers are required to make note of products or equipment likely to cause adverse noise, and may work on them to reduce noise according to ONAC specifications. According to the Noise Control Act, a citizen has the right to file a civil suit against any party that allegedly violates the statute.

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In 1978, the U.S. Congress amended the Noise Control Act with the Quiet Communities Act. The main feature of the amendment is the encouragement of developing efficient local and state noise-control programs. Also, it provided the funds for the ONAC to carry out their research and disseminate their findings. The Quiet Communities Act of 1978 enabled the agency division to conduct activities such as handing out pamphlets to schools, training people in surveying noise and assisting local communities in creating ordinances.

By the end of the 1970s, however, federal regulation of noise had grown unpopular with the manufacturing industry. President Ronald Reagan eventually responded by dissolving the ONAC in 1981, and within a year the EPA had halted noise-control funding entirely. The main objective of such actions was to shift the responsibility of noise control to the local and state governments.

Although it is no longer funded, the Noise Control Act of 1972, together with its Quiet Communities amendment, has not been repealed as of 2011. Thus it still remains valid. In 2009, an organization called Noise Free America published a report entitled “The American Noise Pollution Epidemic: The Pressing Need for Reestablishing the Office of Noise Abatement and Control," which calls for the restoration of the ONAC.

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