We’re Going Green! It seems I see this statement everywhere I go. It has become ubiquitous in a world where we’ve come to realize the fragile balance of meeting the energy demands of a growing population, while attempting to preserve our natural resources. I believe in the importance of energy conservation, am aware of my carbon imprint, recycle, and teach my children to be mindful of energy use. However, I think there are instances where energy conservation is taken too far. More on this later.
On Tuesday evening I flew to Las Vegas to visit a friend and colleague. His name is Julian Treasure. Julian was speaking about sound at a conference attended by audiologists, auditory research scientists, and other interested professionals. The subject of his talk was sound, noise and listening in the modern world. A topic I spend a great deal of time on myself. We were at a lovely resort with a minimalist architectural design. Julian and I spent hours discussing our mutual interests, namely listening and sound. In fact, if you’d would like to hear a short portion of our conversation, you can listen to it here on audioboo.
A day spent discussing sound really sets your attention to it. Which is why I am writing this post about a trend that is an increasing concern of mine.
In the elegant restrooms of this lovely hotel are hand dryers. Not the industrial white dryers we are accustomed to seeing on the walls of gas station bathrooms, but sleek European dryers that greatly appeal to my sense of visual aesthetics. You’ve likely seen them. They look like something straight out of Star Trek. You stick your hands inside and whoosh they’re dry! I think this is great, with one exception. THEY ARE LOUD! How loud? Well… to find out I pulled out my iPhone, launched a decibel meter app and measured. The result? Over 90dB at ear level! That is too loud, especially given that safe sound levels are below 75 decibels.
This level of sound is at minimum annoying, and for some extremely painful. I cannot imagine subjecting my nearing three year old son to one of these. Thinking about the many people we serve with hyperacousis (overly sensitive hearing), I cannot imagine what the experience would be for them. You might say, just use the towels if you don’t like the noise. And that would be a great solution. But this hotel, like so many public places, have removed towels from restrooms. You have no option to these noise machines, other than drying your hands on your clothes or shaking them dry.
As you see in the photo, the justification for these hand dryers is the preservation of our natural resources. OK, I get that. But how much energy does it take to force hot air at such an intensity that my hands are dry in five seconds flat and it makes my ears ring? My ears are a precious natural resource!
I’m not alone in my concern. When I posted this picture on Facebook Tuesday evening it got quite a response.
Do you agree this is a problem? Please share your comments.