BALTIMORE, MD (September 5, 2000) – Only one man in the state of Maryland can literally claim to have heard everything. That’s because as an environmental enforcement inspector specializing in sound with Maryland’s Department of the Environment (MDE), David A. Jarinko is at the center of most major noise complaints and investigations in the state.
Until recently, the Charlestown resident’s career had gone along quietly. But at the end of July that all changed, when MDE named him the department’s 1999 Employee of the Year.
"David is recognized as a leader in his field. He is noted for being innovative and knowledgeable and a team player," said MDE Secretary Jane T. Nishida. "He provides quality customer services, does outstanding work and is an invaluable asset to the department and the citizens of Maryland."
Much to Jarinko’s credit, Maryland is a leader in noise abatement, control and enforcement. Only California, New York, Minnesota, Illinois, and New Jersey, have similar programs but on a more limited basis. "Maryland probably has the strongest sound level statewide requirements of anybody in the country," he said proudly.
Maryland’s Control of Noise Pollution statutes set a maximum 65 decibel daytime limit and 55 decibels at night. To explain decibel ranges, Jarinko said downtown Baltimore during midday can exceed 65 decibels. In a rural setting, background noise may be detected in the 30 decibel range. A trash truck shaking a metal dumpster can produce 85 to 90 decibels, which is comparable to a gunshot blast. "It’s a very energetic sound. It doesn’t last long, but it is enough to wake you up at two in the morning," Jarinko said.
"We work to resolve problems," he said, noting that although no one has ever had to be cited under the full extent of the law, regulations provide for stiff penalties of up to $10,000 per day.
Armed with a real-time sound level analyzer, a device akin to something more than a high powered microphone, Jarinko can sample any sound, break it into one of 33 octave bands, then process it into charts, graphs or court admissible data, if need be. Most of his assignments come from individual citizen complaints.
"Noise is a quality of life issue, especially when you’re as densely populated as Maryland," MDE’s Employee of the Year said. "And it really inflames people when there’s a noise problem.
"If it makes noise, I’ve gotten calls on it, " he said. "Most of it’s plain old variety community noises that irritate people. I’ve done everything from nursing homes and hospitals [which are usually equipment related] to early morning trash pick-ups.
"But we don’t do barking dogs," Jarinko continued jokingly. "We do animal noises though, but only in connection with animal shelters, kennels or other commercial operations."
Gun ranges have been a growing area of investigation and have created some of his most memorable cases. Jarinko recalls having once spent three days in court testifying as a technical expert.
He also gets requests by local government agencies and in recent months he has sampled an outdoor concert for the City of Baltimore, recorded industrial night noises in Thurmont, was requested by Prince George’s County Police to conduct a training on new sound equipment, and asked by Harford County’s Office of People’s Council to perform acoustical reviews.
Jarinko handles approximately 150 formal requests annually that require field investigation. That does not include the number of phone calls where citizens are referred to their local jurisdiction for assistance or are given guidance on what steps they personally can take on a noise matter. Montgomery County has a very active noise control program, but it is the only local jurisdiction with such a program in the state.
"Most people are noise generators, whether they’re a commercial operation or an individual. We don’t think of the effect of the noise we’re creating," he said. "Most noise complaints really turn out to be a lack of courtesy for your neighbor. It’s that simple. Noise today is essentially where second hand smoke was 10 to 15 years ago. Noise still hasn’t reached the status of where it’s recognized in that way. I’m glad I’m able to make difference in that."
MDE's primary mission is to protect and restore the quality of Maryland's air, water, and land resources. The department works to ensure achievement of the state's environmental goals while fostering economic development, safe communities, and environmental education.