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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Hall Examines Excess Noise Report

City Hall is considering plans to turn down the volume after a report was presented about the negative health impacts of living in a noisy environment.

Current noise levels in the city are unacceptable, city environmental chief Leonid Bochin and Nikolai Filatov, the city's chief public health doctor, said in a report at Tuesday's City Hall session. Filatov said, "Noise affects hearing, the immune system, and has a devastating impact on the nervous system," and that 20 percent of complaints to a city hotline are related to noise.

Thirty to 40 percent of the noise-related complaints are because of various construction projects, while 20 percent are traffic-related.

The report said 70 percent of Muscovites live in unacceptable noise conditions.

The biggest culprits of noise pollution are vehicles -- cars, trains and especially trucks. Construction noise, which can continue all night, and airplane noise are also problematic, the report said.

There is currently a city law that bans loud noises during the night, but the law is not enforced because the source of the noise, be it a car or a worker, is difficult to locate and therefore punish. Also, the police are responsible for cracking down on noise makers and tend to dismiss noise pollution as a low priority, said Bochin.

In Britain, police can be called if there is excessive noise from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays. The noise regulation law states that hearing protection must be worn at work when noise reaches 85 decibels.

Filatov's report said busy roads, used by cargo-carrying trucks, reach up to 89 decibels.

Filatov and Bochin suggested reducing residential noise by installing a new standard of ventilation systems and making sure that internal machinery and devices are quiet as well as discussing curfews and routes with the aviation industry to reduce airplane noise. Both admitted that the solutions they offered were not ideal.

Mayor Yury Luzhkov agreed with the report but said it was one-sided.

"Your report seems to have an understanding attitude toward the city infrastructure responsible for noise, including the metro, but thinks that all other sources of noise are cruel beyond belief. We must address all sources of noise equally," Luzhkov said.

Luzhkov said the revised version of the report should also address issues of vibration, infrasound and ultrasound with an emphasis on nighttime noise.

The fine for noise violations is currently 100 rubles ($4).

A bill to toughen existing laws passed in a first reading of the City Duma in December, but it has not been become law.

The proposed increases would raise the fines from 100 to 1,000 rubles for individuals; 1,000 to 2,500 rubles for all officials; and 1,000 to 50,000 rubles for legal entities, such as construction firms.