On-campus renovations raise noise, air pollution concerns

Photo courtesy: Jonathan David

The recent demolition of Gibbs Hall on Florida A&M’s campus is the latest progression to the university’s renovation plan. Demolition has paved a way for new construction of student housing, parking lots, and scenic scapes throughout campus. But, construction also presents some challenges for surrounding areas.

Demolition can be noisy and saturated with debris particles. Both noise and air pollution can have adverse effects on human health. Exposure to high levels of noise can lead to stress and sleep disturbances which can pose health risks that negatively impact students’ academic performance and overall well-being.

In the last three years, FAMU has torn down four dorms; Truth Hall, Paddyfoote, Palmetto North and, most recently, Gibbs Hall. Students have also seen the completion of FAMU Towers off West Osceola to help accommodate the growing number of incoming freshmen.

Eleanor Ferrier lives in Young Hall, one of two dorms near the construction site. Ferrier says that air pollution may have affected students more at the beginning of the demolition process.

“It was pretty bad when they first started. I would just cover my mouth and go inside. They end construction at a certain time every day so it doesn’t really affect my sleep at night,” she said.

Demolition requires a number of vehicles. Common machines used during demolition are bulldozers, excavators, dump trucks and hoses to water down sites and minimize dust and debris. The Komatsu PC290 pictured above is listed as an Intelligent Machine Control excavator or IMC. How loud is it exactly?

According to Komatsu’s official website, the exterior sound performance is listed at 104 dB(A). Noises above 70 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A bulldozer, impact wrench, or motorcycle are other sounds that hover between 100-120dB. Noises above 120 dB begin to get extremely loud. Fireworks or a jet engine will usually fall between 125-155dB.

Construction isn’t the only thing adding to increased noise levels on campus. Florida A&M’s campus layout can appear tightly packed compared to much larger universities. The structure means construction, paint jobs that require lifts, landscaping, and transport jobs all take place in a relatively close area.

Ferrier is looking into the future and says that there is something positive about the dorms being gone.

“I plan to remain in Young Hall another year so now my bedroom view is nicer. It’s just nicer to look at. When the grass grows in and everything is done, I’ll have the best view.”

Much is left in the completion of campus renovations. It is assuring to know that the increased noise levels are not affecting students as much as you’d think. We can all agree with Ferrier and say, as long as the grass is greener on the other side.