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What A Racket!

What you really need to know.

Barking dogs. Screaming kids. Those now-infamous leaf blowers. Your neighbor's blaring radio.

What do the above have in common? That's right--noise. And unfortunately, noise seems to be an inescapable part of our daily lives. Hearing loss is on the rise, and according to Newsweek, more than 20 million Americans are regularly exposed to dangerous noise levels. From street traffic to airplanes to lawn mowers, noise surrounds us day in and day out. And urban areas--home to countless homebased businesses--are most at risk. Consider this: The ambient noise level in our big cities increases one decibel every decade, says acoustical scientist David Lubman.

Noise affects more than just your ears: Think high blood pressure, a faster heart rate and sleep disturbances, all of which can hurt you and your business. "It's more of a problem than has been recognized, and it's growing," says Lubman, founder of Westminster, California, acoustical consulting firm David Lubman & Associates.

Homebased business owners regularly struggle with noise pollution, and Lubman is no exception. He considers the worst offenders to be neighborhood lawn mowers and leaf blowers. "They drive me crazy," he says.

If noise interferes with your concentration, invest in some earplugs. Remember that solid walls keep out more noise than walls with windows. If working with a view is a priority, consider installing double-paned windows, which help block noise. You can also purchase thicker "sound-rated" doors to achieve similar results. And if you're in the market for a new home, determine beforehand the sorts of noise you'll encounter throughout the day.

No matter what you do, realize that it's impossible to completely insulate yourself. While some people carry on in blissful oblivion, we are all victims of a world that's just plain noisy.

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