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Memo To: Metropolitan Airports Commission (Minneapolis/St. Paul)
From: Sven Olson And Ole Svenson
Regarding: Personal Noise Reduction System


Noise reduction can take place at the sources of the noise, at the receptors, or at any point in between. The cost of reduction varies with each plan depending on the intricacy of necessary technology and the breadth over which it must be spread. The time of implementation also varies due to a multitude of factors.

Reduction of aircraft engine noise directly affects the sources of noise but is expensive because it awaits new technological developments. It also involves long delays because new aircraft take many years to develop and old aircraft take even longer to be replaced.

Insulation and soundproofing of homes in the flight path is closer to the receptors of the noise and is also moderately expensive. It suffers from the additional drawback of requiring residents to stay in their homes with the windows closed. While this is not difficult during the dominant winter season, it can be more problematic over the brief summer.

Enclosure of the entire geographic area in a plastic dome is a solution which places itself halfway between the sources and the receptors. Drawbacks, in addition to technological problems, include considerable construction time and expense as well as ecological considerations such as the effect on migratory birds and the need to maintain air quality standards and retrieve stray balloons.

Proposal, Personal Noise Reduction System:

We suggest a solution using available technology with a short lead time and low expense which takes the reduction directly to the receptors of the noise and, as an additional benefit, provides new jobs at many levels.

1. It has been shown that cotton balls in the ears are effective in reducing noise levels received by an individual. Additional work will be necessary to determine the optimal size of the cotton ball for various sized ears and the optimal system for distribution.

2. Bulk cotton could be purchased from various companies on competitive bids, providing business contacts with other regions of the country.

3. A cotton ball industry could possibly be developed in the Iron Range using the wasted freight capacity of otherwise empty aircraft flying there to be serviced at the proposed maintenance bases.

4. A watchdog agency, providing many administrative and technical jobs, would also be necessary to develop guidelines for usage rates under different conditions and to prevent abuses such as resale of the cotton to medical facilities at tempting profits.

5. Recycling research may even produce additional revenue through the development of new uses for ear wax.

6. Cotton ball dispensers will need to be set up on the outskirts of the noise reduction area to provide for those individuals entering the area who do not reside there and are therefore not on the normal distribution system. These could possibly be coordinated with current State Lottery ticketing stations.

Areas For Further Study:

To be perfectly frank, there are one or two difficult aspects to this proposal. These revolve around the subsequent need to provide closed caption television and hearing impaired phone service, in addition to possible training in sign language, for individuals using the Personal Noise Reduction System.

Realistically, however, the Metropolitan Airports Commission will eventually be liable to provide these services to this population due to progressive hearing loss. The only question is whether the technology will become cheaper in the future or whether it is best to provide it up front.

Certainly either scenario will eventually bring down the cost due to the large numbers involved.

The new ground broken here will also assure continued visits by representatives of other municipalities coming here to study the program and its administration. While here, they may also stimulate the local economy by visiting some of our other attractions.

To assure that the citizens of the Twin Cities develop enthusiasm, pride and a sense of ownership in the program, it is also suggested that a public contest be held to give the system a snappy name, preferably an acronym, something that rings in your ears.

All these dramas may be used and shared freely. If you do use them, I would be interested in knowing about it and hearing comments.
Send comments to me at ross{at}

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