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New York, the City That Roars 24/7, is Forced to Quiet Down

The City that Never Sleeps and Makes a Lot of Noise has had to turn it down a notch after a tougher new noise code took effect this week . But where there are 8,000,000 New Yorkers, can decibels really drop?

The city's Department of Environmental Protection has a phone line, 311, for quality-of-life complaints.

And the top source of environmental disturbance, callers say, is distracting, annoying, shrill, dull or rattling -- noise.

"Honking horns, construction noise, the alarms, the airplanes, the subway, traffic: noise is a big problem for New York City. And we had not changed our noise code for over 30 years," Ailen Bronzaft, a researcher on the effects of noise on humans who helped the city develop the new code, told AFP.

Bronzaft has advised four mayors including Michael Bloomberg, who pushed for the new regulations approved by the city council in 2005.

She warned that noise can cause health problems that range from hearing loss to psychological and behavioral problems.

"The revised Noise Code will help make the City that Never Sleeps a little more comfortable for those who occasionally do," the environmental office jokes.

The previous code dates back to 1972, back when New York was on the cutting edge in the effort to limit the cacophony.

The new one in many cases leaves it up to an inspector to determine if noise is "clearly audible." City or police agents who are implementing the rules in some cases will have devices with which they can measure the vibrating noise typical of a techno music blowout.

Discos, dancehalls and restaurants will be given a chance to produce a plan to curb their noise output; and if they don't deliver, fines of up to 8,000 dollars could be imposed.

New Yorkers whose cars are tricked out with impressive sound systems meant to rock passersby to their bones can be slapped with fines from 100-350 doll
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