Environment: Shh!

Man has a built-in defense against continuous exposure to loud noise: he goes partially deaf. Before that, however, he may well suffer headaches, heart flutter, and even ulcers. What can be done to quiet the crescendo that is rising every year? New York City has an answer. It has just passed the toughest noise code in the nation.

The new law bans several major sources of street noise, such as cars honking horns and stores using outdoor loudspeakers. One especially controversial provision forbids construction between dusk and dawn; another demands that pet owners hush obstreperous dogs, cats and parrots. But the code's...

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