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Sunday, September 25, 2022
Letter: Unhealthy noise levels from bird cannons

Dear editor:

On vineyards where propane cannons are detonating (decibels 120 to 130 known to cause health issues to hearing and nervous system) are workers provided with hearing protection, as is required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act when “any workers are exposed to hazardous sound levels”?  The act defines hazardous sound levels at 85 decibels.

On its website, Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the U.S. provides typical noise levels for various industries including mining, construction, and farming. The highest typical noise level was listed among construction equipment, namely pile drivers, registering 119 to 125 decibels.  This piece of equipment produced the highest and most hazardous sound level among all the industries listed on that site.

For farm equipment the highest typical noise level listed by the U.S. agency are power tools at 100 decibels. Interestingly, propane cannons, a typical piece of farming equipment emitting noise of 120 to 130 decibels, is excluded.

When you hear a pile driver in your neighbourhood, it'll be pounding away for some days until the job is done. Power tools, likewise, will be heard for a few hours or days from time to time.

A typical work shift exposure is eight hours a day, five days a week.

When the cannons start up, the residents' exposure to the blasting is 12 to 15 hours per day, seven days a week, from dozens of farms simultaneously.

Children are more highly susceptible to the negative effects of chronic impulse blasts. In some of the seriously affected areas, such as St. Davids, there are five vineyards blasting away relentlessly. York Road suffers serious echoing off the Escarpment.

The measurement of decibels and their enhanced or diminished effects are dependent on a number of criteria: distance from the offending source, sound and shock absorbing impediments, echo/rebounding off the Escarpment rockface (as happens along York Road and Sheppard Crescent)  and whether the listener is stationary or merely driving past.

When noise is excessive it becomes unbearable, torturous and intolerable because of its frequency and its proximity, hence the impact of noise on residents living closest to the source.

Sadly, when a community becomes desensitized to or “becomes used to” that level of noise it  means the damage to the sympathetic nervous system, which reacts to alerts such as car horns and sirens, etc., has already occurred.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs suggests, as evidenced by its lack of responsive compassion, that vineyard blasts are normal farm noises everywhere, regardless of the surrounding residential population and despite the impact on an overwhelming number of rural residents.

Living alongside these industries make us the experts; we determine how much noise is acceptable and what is intolerable. Not the other way around.

If you are negatively impacted by blasting noise from farmers' cannons go to Facebook BAN THE CANNONS, Niagara and see the petition at

Valeria Sebella