New Orleans Sound Check Program

As of early 2016, a team of New Orleans city health employees will be measuring sound levels in the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny, likely a prelude to a revived effort to craft a viable sound ordinance.

Charlotte Parent, director of the Health Department, said the Sound Check program will function much like the city’s smoking ban did. It will begin with an education campaign, which will include mailers warning business owners of the risks associated with prolonged exposure to excessive sound.

Team members will also respond to complaints of excessive sound, measuring noise levels and speaking with music venues and clubs about how they can mitigate their impact on the community. The people lodging the complaints will also be given “options on how to mitigate” their discomfort as well, Parent said.

The ultimate goal, though, is to establish a baseline of what normal sound levels are in New Orleans and to use “scientific evidence as to what the acceptable levels are that will not cause any damage to public health or damage hearing,” she said. Once that has been established, it will likely be incorporated into a proposed sound ordinance currently under consideration by the City Council.

Asked to elaborate on what she meant by “damage to public health,” Parent said that high blood pressure and increased stress due to loss of sleep would be taken into consideration in establishing what an acceptable baseline level of sound is.