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Aug 07, 2006

Posted by David Hadaway at the BAS website (reposting here because the “President’s Message” rotates off the site):

Black adults hear better than white adults, a study has found. The study also found that women hear better than men and that, overall, hearing in the United States is about the same as it was 35 years ago, despite the advent of ear-blasting devices such as the Walkman and iPod. The racial difference may be related to melanin, a skin pigment. Some scientists believe black people’s larger amount of melanin protect them from noise-induced hearing loss as the years go by. Scientists suspect melanin plays a role in how the body removes harmful chemical compounds caused by damage to the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear. Genetics or occupational noise exposure may explain the difference between women and men. The conclusion that the nation’s overall hearing has not changed since the early 1970s seems to contradict other recent research finding that modern teenagers do not hear as well as children did in the age before mobile listening devices. The study looked at more that 5,000 people who had hearing tests from 1999 through 2004 as part of an annual federal health survey. On average, the 1077 non-Hispanics blacks could hear higher tones at 15 to 22 decibels, while the 2,518 non-Hispanic whites could hear high tones at 21 to 32 decibels. [Our own tests of BAS members, a very limited sample, tend to confirm these results].

I’m guessing that the source is this AP report published a couple of months ago.

So, does this figure into noise-senstivity in majority minority neighborhoods? Does anyone care?

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Unless you’re living in a cave (or are not a U.S. resident), you’ve probably heard at least some of the bellyaching over problems in Boston’s Central Artery/Tunnel Project (aka the Big Dig), with some going so far as to ask if the project is “One of Engineeringšs Biggest Mistakes.”

The project holds a special place in my heart (yes, I do have a heart!), and so I’m happy that I get to point to a Washington Post article titled (appropriately enough) “Dig the Big Dig:”

The Big Dig demolished the Central Artery and diverted its traffic beneath the city, an engineering feat that has been chronicled in PBS and Discovery Channel documentaries. (It was done without shutting down the city, which was like performing open-heart surgery on a patient running a marathon. And all affected homes and businesses were compensated — sometimes excessively so.) The expressway eventually will be replaced by a ribbon of urban parkland, but its absence has already reconnected the city to its long-abandoned waterfront, which is experiencing a renaissance. The project also includes a tunnel to Logan International Airport, a gorgeous bridge over the Charles River and a slew of transit projects, including new commuter rail lines to the suburbs and better subway connections within the city. And the project has transported 3.5 million cubic yards of fill to a Boston Harbor garbage dump called Spectacle Island, which has been transformed into a 121-acre recreational jewel, featuring a marina, two beaches, five miles of hiking trails and 28,000 trees.

[From Starts & Stops]

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