Effects of noise pollution on our body
and how to reduce it
Sound becomes unwanted when it interferes with normal activities such as sleeping or diminishes one’s quality of life.
Noise pollution is a serious threat to the quality of our environment. Undesirable noise is dumped into the atmosphere, regardless of its adverse effects. Add to this noise; the sound is created through electronic pollution as radio communication intensifies. In a broader sense, noise pollution may be dubbed as an “unforeseen blackness” in the concentrated use of its power.
In the city, the large numbers of motor vehicles have created air as well as noise pollution. Our industrial areas, mostly those housing textile mills, weaving units, and other small-scale industries, transport industry, trucks, cars, buses, and auto-rickshaws, add up to the level of noise pollution difficult for all of us. The continuous loud sounded disturbing noise. It causes mental and physical discomfort and may lead to permanent damage to our hearing measured in decibels. The human beings’ ears are susceptible to a wide range of power from 0 -180 decibels being the threshold of hearing, whereas 140 decibels makes the entry of pain.
Noise pollution is a potentially dangerous pollutant and a grave threat to the environment. Animals can be endangered due to noise pollution. Measurement of such pollution, regulations, and legal restriction on noise must be taken up urgently. Therefore, the existing ordinances and acts against noise pollution must be reviewed and revised from time to time, depending upon the different noise pollution sources.
Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Every 10dB increase in a certain sound means there is a ten times increase in the intensity of the sound. Sound measuring 120dB can damage the eardrums. However, a sound that is about 85dB can already be hazardous to the ears if the person is exposed to it continuously. Constant exposure to such intense noise can bring health problems like damaged eardrums.
Sources of noise pollution
There are two main sources of noise pollution, namely: indoor and outdoor sources. Loud music and noise made by some electrical appliances belong to the indoor source, and noise from vehicles and industrial machines are under the outdoor sources. Studies show that outdoor sources contribute more to this kind of pollution than the indoor source, which is why urban places have higher noise pollution than rural places.
A person exposed to high decibel sounds constantly has greater risks of developing health problems. One of these health risks is developing acoustic trauma. This happens when a person is continuously exposed to a sound of 85dB and above. Constant exposure to too much noise can bring physical and psychological problems.
What are the causes of noise pollution?
The causes of noise pollution are varied, but some of the most common things to blame for this are the following:
- Cars: The sound of traffic has become music to people’s ears, particularly those who live in urban areas. But this music is not the type that relaxes and soothes you; it is like those overly loud hard rock or metal music that can be damaging to your ears.
- Airplanes: People who live close to airports are affected by the noises that come from airplanes. They typically suffer from problems like chronic stress, high blood pressure, and heart ailments.
- Workplace: Construction sites and assembly lines are two common sources of noise. Other than that, office noise, which consists of anything from talking co-workers, drumming of fingers on the desk to the sound of computer typing and air conditioning noises, is also a culprit for noise pollution.
- Home: At home, pollution can be the television, sound system, talking individuals, and sound of other appliances.
Source: pixabay.com – Airplane flying over a town in São Paulo, Brazil
Why is noise pollution a concern?
Loud sounds can damage sensitive structures of the inner ear and cause hearing loss. This makes conversation and other daily activities more difficult, and also causes many other health problems. Exposure to noise cause adverse health effects like stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
What are the negative effects of noise pollution on our health?
Research reveals that noise does have adverse effects on our overall health and well being, the most common of which is chronic stress. Noise pollution can trigger the body’s response to stress and increase stress hormones to high levels.
This is why noise can be associated with ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and musculoskeletal problems. Noise can also lower immunity to diseases by disrupting proper sleep cycles. Aside from your health, noise can also reduce a person’s productivity. It disrupts people’s reading ability and comprehension. Some even have memory impairment due to this problem.
What are the health effects of noise pollution of greatest concern?
Hearing loss can result from a single loud sound near your ear, or from common activities that you are repeated exposed to overtime. Some sources of noise pollution that you may be exposed to include:
- Heavy city traffic
- Emergency siren
- Gas-powered lawn mower
- Jetplane (from 100 ft.)
- Leaf blower
- Music player
- Rock concert
- Washing machine
Who is at risk of the health effects of Noise Pollution
People differ in their sensitivity to noise. As a general rule, sounds louder than 80 decibels are considered hazardous. Noise may damage your hearing if you are at arm’s length and have to shout to make yourself heard. If noise hurts your ears, your ears may ring, or you may have difficulty hearing for several hours after exposure to the noise.
Children often participate in recreational activities that can harm their hearing. These activities include attending music concerts and sporting events, participating in fireworks activities, and playing with noisy toys and video games, Listening to loud music, especially on headphones, is a common source of noise-induced hearing loss.
The normal human ear can detect sounds ranging between 0dB (hearing threshold) to about 140 dB, with sounds between 120dB and 140 dB causing pain (pain threshold).
Human diseases caused by noise pollution
Whether we realize we are subjected to it or not, noise pollution can be hazardous to our health in various ways.
- Hypertension is, in this case, a direct result of noise pollution caused by elevated blood levels for a longer period.
- Hearing loss can be directly caused by noise pollution, whether listening to loud music in your headphones or being exposed to loud drilling noises at work, heavy air or land traffic, or separate incidents in which noise levels reach dangerous intervals, such as around 140dB for adult or 120 dB for children.
- Sleep disturbances are usually caused by constant air or land traffic at night. They are a serious condition in that they can affect everyday performance and lead to serious diseases.
- Child development. Children appear to be more sensitive to noise pollution. Several noise-pollution-related diseases and dysfunctions are known to affect children, from hearing impairment to psychological and physical effects. Also, children who regularly use music players at high volumes ate at risk of developing hearing dysfunctions. According to a study, 12.5% of American children between the ages of 6 to 19 years had impaired hearing in one or both ears.
- Various cardiovascular dysfunctions. Elevated blood pressure caused by noise pollution, especially during the night, can lead to various cardiovascular diseases,
- Dementia isn’t necessarily caused by noise pollution, but its onset can be favored or compounded by noise pollution
- Psychological dysfunctions are noise annoyance. Noise annoyance is, in fact, a recognized name for an emotional reaction that can have an immediate impact.
Causes of industrial noise pollution
The three most damaging sources of noise pollution in an industrial setting are machinery, construction, and vehicles.
People who work with drills, punch presses, saws, mills, lathes, and progressive dies must wear protective equipment to avoid noise pollution. Also, the mechanical pneumatic drills, saws, and rotating belts, etc. can create intolerably high levels of sound that can irritate the public and adversely affect the employees of engineering companies, textile mills, and metalworking factories.
Similarly, construction workers, blasting, bulldozing, quarrying, and various other similar activities can create a high intensity of noise pollution. Workers involved in these activities should wear earplugs to help them avoid deafening exposure to these causes of noise pollution.
How can we reduce noise pollution?
Since it can negatively impact our bodies, we must do something about it. Fortunately, there are certain things you can do to reduce noise. One of these is to limit the noise that enters your space. You can do this by having double-paned windows and weather stripping.
Installation of such equipment can reduce heating, cooling bills, and increase insulation in your home. You can further minimize home noise by turning off the television and opting for appliances that don’t emit much noise.
As for the workplace, changing your job may be the only solution if what you are currently doing poses grave danger to your health because of the noise pollution. Now for less serious problems like office noise, you can bring this to the employers who can implement policies regarding this matter. After all, less talk means more work done, which is what they want to achieve in the first place.
A reliable measuring instrument such as the Tenmars TM-102 Autoranging Sound Level Meter can measure between 30dB to 130dB, covering most of the commercial and industrial noises found commonly in our daily lives. This portable handheld meter is small and fits into a small bag, allowing you to bring around with ease and measure noise pollution on the go as you move around the area for different measurements.
Source: Tenmars TM-102 Autoranging Sound Level Meter
People exposed to too much noise can develop difficulty in hearing, hypertension, and disturbed sleep. People and even animals living in a noisy, polluted area can also acquire stress and become aggressive and irritable due to noise pollution.
Noise pollution is not only irritating and annoying. It is also detrimental to a person’s overall health and wellbeing. This is why you must do something about it. To accurately determine the level of pollution you are receiving, you will need a reliable sound level meter. All our sound level meters can be found here.