If waste is, broadly defined, the externalities of social and technical systems, then noise is a quintessential form of waste. Noise pollution is disturbing or excessive sound that may harm humans or animals, and, not surprisingly, it usually emits from industrial technologies. Perhaps because it exceeds the material focus of most pollution laws, it wasn’t until the 1970s (1975 in Portland, to be exact) that U.S. governments promoted noise from a “nuisance” to a full fledged environmental problem like its material cousins in the pollution panoply. Yet, noise remains a generally neglected source for the theorization of waste, pollution, and harm outside of the technical and medical disciplines. If you are interested in remedying the situation, here is a bibliography for you:
Bijsterveld, Karin. Mechanical Sound: Technology, Culture, and Public Problems of Noise in the Twentieth Century. Boston:Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008.
Bragdon, Clifford R. Noise pollution: The unquiet crisis. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971.
Coates, Peter A. “The Strange Stillness of the Past: Toward an Environmental History of Sound and Noise.” Environmental History 10, no. 4 (October 2005): 636-665.
Firestone, Jeremy and Jarvis, Christina. “Response and Responsibility: Regulating Noise Pollution in the Marine Environment.” Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy 10, 2 (2007): 109-152.
Goines, Lisa, and Louis Hagler. “Noise pollution: A modern plague.” Southern medical journal 100.3 (2007): 287-294.
Hildebrand, James L. “Noise Pollution: An Introduction to the Problem and an Outline for Future Legal Research.” Columbia Law Review 70.4 (1970): 652-692.
Maisonneuve, Nicolas, et al. “NoiseTube: Measuring and mapping noise pollution with mobile phones.” Information Technologies in Environmental Engineering. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2009. 215-228.
Neitzel, R. L., Hammer, M. S., & Swinburn, T. K. (2015). Assessing hazardous noise pollution in the United States. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 137(4), 2279-2279.
Robinson, Douglas William. “The concept of noise pollution level.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 13.12 (1971): 602.
Ritts, Max. (2017). “Amplifying Environmental Politics: Ocean Noise.” Antipode.
Sebastianutto, Linda, Michael Stocker, and Marta Picciulin. “Communicating the Issue of Underwater Noise Pollution: The Deaf as a Fish Project.” The Effects of Noise on Aquatic Life II. Springer New York, 2016. 993-999.
Shapiro, Sidney A. “The dormant Noise Control Act and options to abate noise pollution.” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 91 (1992): 2327.
Singh, Narendra, and S. C. Davar. “Noise pollution—sources, effects and control.” Journal of Human Ecology (Delhi, India) 16.3 (2004): 181-187.
Smilor, Raymond Wesley. “Cacophony at 34th and 6th: The Noise Problem in America, 1900-1930.” American Studies 18, no. 1 (1971): 23-28
Smilor, Raymond Wesley. “Personal Boundaries in the Urban Environment: The Legal Attack on Noise: 1865-1930.” Environmental Review 3 (1979): 24-36.
Smilor, Raymond Wesley. “Toward an Environmental Perspective: The Anti-Noise Campaign, 1893-1932.” In Pollution and Reform in American Cities, 1870-1930, edited by Martin V. Melosi, 135-151. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980.
Keyes, Sarah.“’Like a Roaring Lion’: The Overland Trail as a Sonic Conquest.” Journal of American History 96, no. 1 (June 2009): 19-43.
Project Seeks to Map and Reduce Ocean Noise Pollution, New York Times 2012
Noise Pollution Is Changing Forests, New York Times 2012
Noise Pollution Makes It Harder For Plants to Have Sex, Treehugger 2012
Noise Pollution Causing Songbirds to Cheat on Each Other, Treehugger 2011
Study Finds Noise Pollution in San Francisco Harms People’s Health, Treehugger 2008
Giant Squid Are Killed by Ocean Noise Pollution, Study Shows, Treehugger 2011
Oceans Noise Pollution Causing Massive Trauma to Squids & Octopuses, Treehugger 2011
Ocean Noise Pollution Leads Baby Fish Away from Good Habitat, Treehugger 2010
Noise Pollution Harms Fish Populations, Locations, Habits, Treehugger 2010
Some interesting visualizations (transmediation) of sound pollution, making the ephemeral and temporal fixed: