Noise pollution is a serious threat to public health, and it’s important that we take steps to reduce it. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that noise pollution is now one of the most dangerous environmental threats to public health. The European Environment Agency (EEA) has stated that almost 16,600 premature deaths and more than 72,000 hospitalizations occur every year in Europe alone due to noise pollution. So, what can we do about it? And how do we save ourselves and our environment?
There are a few things we can do to reduce noise pollution. One is to raise awareness about the issue and its effects on public health. We can also work to reduce noise pollution at its source, for example, by installing quieter machinery in factories or using quieter methods of transportation. We can also work to insulate our homes and workplaces from noise pollution by installing soundproofing materials.
Noise pollution is an unwanted and excessive noise that can cause harmful effects on human health and the environment. It is usually produced inside various industrial facilities and workplaces, but can also come from highways, airplanes, railway traffic, and outdoor building and construction activities.
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Sources and Causes of Noise Pollution
Noise pollution has many causes and sources. Some of the most common causes of noise pollution are:
To protect workers in noisy environments, industries and factories often provide them with earplugs to reduce exposure to noise pollution. Even with these precautions, long-term exposure to loud noises can still lead to hearing loss. To avoid this, it is important for workers to take breaks in a quiet area away from the noise, and to limit their exposure to loud noises as much as possible.
2. Poor Urban Planning
Inadequate and insufficient urban planning in most developing countries is the main reason for noise pollution. Because large families are sharing small spaces, houses are packed, and fights over basic amenities, such as parking and traffic jams, lead to noise pollution and the disruption of the social environment. When industrial buildings and residential properties are nearby, noise pollution may be caused. In situations such as these, noise from industrial properties may endanger the well-being of the nearby residents.
3. Social Events
Noise pollution is at its peak during social events. It could be a marriage celebration, a party, a pub, a discotheque, a place of worship, and so on – people have no regard and consideration for rules and create a nuisance. At the outset, this may not seem too much; however, over time, the noise generated causes adverse effects on the hearing abilities of individuals.
A vast number of automobiles on roads, underground trains, and airplanes flying over residential areas generate a lot of noise. These loud volumes may lead to a situation wherein an individual may not hear properly. In addition to causing hearing difficulties, all this noise pollution can also be very disruptive and make it hard to focus or concentrate on anything else. We urge you to please be considerate of your neighbors and try to keep the noise down when possible!
5. Construction Activities
Construction activities, such as the construction of bridges, buildings, dams, flyover stations, roads stations, and roads, occur in almost every part of the world. These activities help to accommodate more people by providing them with the necessary infrastructure. However, the noise generated from such construction activities can endanger the hearing abilities of individuals who are constantly exposed to it.
6. Household Chores
We all are surrounded by gadgets and depend on them extensively in our day-to-day life. Devices such as TVs, mobiles, pressure cookers, mixer grinders, vacuum cleaners, dryers, washing machines, coolers, and air conditioners contribute significantly to the amount of noise generated. As a result, it affects the quality of environmental life.
7. Air Traffic
While we may find it difficult to believe, air traffic also contributes to vast levels of noise pollution. Noise from one aircraft can produce sounds of up to 130 dB. So you can only imagine the quantity of noise produced by the various aircraft traveling in our airspace.
8. Catering, Nightlife, and Animal Sound
As we know, Nightlife and parties contribute to a lot of pollution; however, we cannot ignore the sounds made by animals – specifically by a barking or a howling dog. These sounds produce around 60-80 dB of noise.
How Many Decibels Is Considered As Noise Pollution?
The loudness of a sound is measured in Decibels (dB). Normal conversation is about 60 dB, the sound of a lawnmower is around 90 dB, and the sound of a loud rock concert is about 120 dB. Generally, sounds above 85 dB are considered dangerous and harmful to the ears, depending on how long and how frequently you are exposed to those sounds and whether you wear hearing protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs.
Harmful Effects of Noise Pollution
1. Hearing Problems
Our ears can only take in a certain amount of sound without getting damage. Noise above safe levels can cause hearing impairments.
2. Psychological Issues
Extreme noise pollution in working areas, such as construction sites, offices, bars, and houses, can damage psychological health.
3. Physical Problems
Noise pollution can lead to high blood pressure, headaches, respiratory agitation, racing pulse, etc. Extreme exposure to loud sounds can also lead to gastritis, colitis, and heart attacks.
4. Cognitive Issues and Behavioral Changes
Noise affects brain responses and an individual’s ability to focus, leading to low-performance levels in the long run.
5. Sleeping Disorders
High noise levels can also impact an individual’s sleeping pattern, leading to uncomfortable situations and irritation.
How to Reduce Noise Pollution?
There are a few things you can do to help control noise pollution:
- Turn off Appliances at Home and offices
- Shut the Door when using noisy Machines
- Use Ear Plugs
- Lower the Volume
- Stay away from noisy areas.
- Follow the limits of the noise level.
- Go green by planting trees since trees are good noise absorbents. Thus, we all should focus more on planting trees.
- Create a healthy noise to eradicate unwanted noise.
- Install noise absorbents in noisy machinery.
- Alert the authorities with regards to disobedience of noise rules.
- Major Precautions for Avoiding Noise Pollution
- Boost insulation in your home. Consider replacing ill-fitting doors and windows with less noisy ones. Soft furnishings, such as draperies and carpets, can help muffle sound too.
- Search for “noise-free” and “quiet” products. Various products are designed to be noise-free and quiet these days. Websites and spec sheets for a few dishwashers also comprise decibel-level claims.
- Track noise and sound by using an app. Various smartphone apps provide meters to detect the decibel of different sounds to give you an idea of what you are exposed to. Be sure to adjust the app before you use it to measure the accuracy.
The research and evidence linking noise pollution to negative effects on our health seems to be mounting. But what can be done about it when we can’t just shut down the sources of the noise? We need solutions from all sectors, with governments taking active steps to pass laws and restrictions on noise. But besides that, we can each do our part to reduce the amount of noise we make. Simple things like being aware of how loud we are being, using quieter appliances, and being considerate of our neighbors can help make a difference.