There is a general saying that too much of everything is bad, this is so true for noise. Any unwanted sound such as incessant barking of the dogs, bikes, and cars honking frequently or even beating of the drums can be known as noise. In this article, we see how to actually control noise pollution? Before that, what is noise?
“Noise” as a word from the Latin word nausea which is what we call as “unwanted sound”. Consequently, noise can simply refer to as ‘unwanted sound” that hinders human comfort, health and communication.
You might say that noise is just noise and how could it really affect one’s health. Well, I will like to ask a question – have you ever been woken from a restful sleep by a car alarm or barking dogs? If yes, then you have experienced the stress of noise pollution. Believe me, it is annoying! Now, let’s imagine you do experience this kind of scenario every single time you try getting a rest. This will gradually lead to lack of sleep and an expected buildup of stress, which can eventually lead to a lot of physical and mental health problems.
Now, What is Noise Pollution?
An excessive amount of disturbing sounds made by animals, machines, and people that can hinder the stability in the environment is what we call as noise pollution.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, noise pollution is a “harmful or annoying levels of noise.” Though this definition might be short, it was straight to the point. Wikipedia also gave a more detailed explanation by defining noise pollution as an “immoderate, displeasing animal, machine or human-created environmental noise that interrupts the balance or activity of an animal or human lifestyles.”
In this present age, noise pollution has become a big contributor to the environmental hazard in our world. Though a lot of us co-relate sound pollution with noise pollution, in reality, there is a huge difference between them. The sound is just for detecting the variation of pressure by a human ear, but when there is an excessive amount of non-required sound, then we can refer to it as noise.
A hearing test analyzed by Mimi Hearing Technologies GmbH (a digital app) shows the data on noise pollution of two hundred thousand of their users. This result is combined with that of a Norwegian-based research organization (SINTEF) and WHO (World Health Organization) and was used to plot the noise pollution in 50 different cities.
The second worst city when it comes to noise pollution in Delhi followed by Cairo, Mumbai, Istanbul, and Beijing. Barcelona, which is part of the two European cities present in the worst ten, occupies the 7th position. The capital cities of Mexico, Paris and Buenos Aires occupy the 8th, 9th and 10th position respectively.
Europe is the home of the top five quietest cities: Stockholm, Zurich, Munich, Oslo, and Vienna. The top ten quietest cities have three German cities; Dusseldorf occupies the 6th position, the 7th position has Hamburg, and Cologne is present in the 9th place. Portland occupies the 8th and Amsterdam remains the 10th.
Nearly everyone has once in a time experienced the temporarily “deafened” through a noise. But where does this noise come from? What are its sources? What caused it?
Sources and Causes of Noise Pollution:
Common sources of sound and their decibel levels
Whether you like it or not, if you are staying in an industrial area, you will surely be affected by noise pollution and the major cause of this is the sound coming from the machines used by the industry. We find most of these industries in urban areas and this brings about high intensity of noise pollution in such areas.
Transportation as pose as a major cause of noise pollution. Every means of transportation produce an extremely high volume of sound. The pollution through these modes of transportation is everywhere. Car honks, car alarm, noise from motorcycles, trains, aeroplanes, ships and so on.
We make use of different means of systems for our entertainment. Systems such as music systems, radio, television, and many others cause uncontrolled noise. Also, Loudspeakers used by DJs in wedding programs, microphones and speakers used in religious programs, and many others contribute greatly to noise pollution.
The use of different tools and machines in different construction sites leads to a lot of noise pollution with detrimental effects on the health of the workers at the site and people residing in such an environment.
Another source of noise pollution is the fireworks we used on different occasions. A firework is a common object used during numerous festivals, fairs, cultural ceremonies, marriage ceremonies. Apart from the air pollution caused by these fireworks, their sound intensity is so high and it gives rise to noise pollution.
Noise has harmful consequences on the health and behaviour and a lengthened exposure to noise brings about in various negative effects. Noise pollution can affect us in many ways, you can read some of them below.
Effects of Noise Pollution (On human)
Loud surroundings can cause heart-related issues. Research have proved that excessive intensity sound could cause a dramatic increase in blood pressure as the level of noise to disrupt the blood flows and constrict the arteries.
Also, the heart rate also increases. This was made clear in one research in which the heart rate of kids residing in a noisy environment was measured.
The study showed that the heart rate of these kids (staying in a noisy environment) is more the heart rate of those living in a quiet environment. These abnormal changes can eventually increase the possibility of cardiovascular issues.
Bad Cognitive Function
When you get exposed to noise frequently, the ability to study, understand and learn decreases drastically over time. The ability to solve problems and recall what you have read may also decline due to regular loud noise.
It can also affect your productiveness at work and increase the margin of your mistakes. Studies have shown that children learning in noisy surroundings have a tendency of having a low or poor cognitive function. For example, children studying in schools close to a highway have a lesser cognitive status when compared to those studying in a quieter environment.
Mental Health Issues
Prolonged exposure to loud sound can result in an increase in stress levels and a rise in violent behaviour. Also, frequent noise can cause headaches, make people anxious and traumatic and affect emotional stability.
Lack of Sleep
Exposure to high noise can result in difficulty while sleeping which in turn can affect your overall well-being. It is generally known that noise can disrupt an awesome night’s sleep, and if this happens, then you feel very uncomfortable and annoyed. Individuals affected with interrupted sleep have a sharp decrease in their energy levels and can actually result in extreme fatigue. Also, this can significantly affect the efficiency of the person’s ability at work.
Problem with Hearing
Prolonged exposure to noise can affect and damage the ear. Noise pollution can cause hearing impairment which can either be permanent or temporary. Any sound level that passes the 70-decibel mark turns into noise for the ear.
The level of noise above eighty decibels has a damaging and negative effect to the ear. When the ear is under excessively loud noise for a long time, it can result in irreparable damage and permanent hearing loss.
Problem in Communicating
Loud surroundings produce a high level of noise (above 50-60 decibels) which can affect the proper communication between people. Getting to understand what the second person is saying becomes very difficult and can result in misunderstandings.
Effect Of Noise Pollution On Animals:
Noise pollution caused by man has as well made the Earth uncomfortable for animals. Increase in heart rate and hearing loss are some of the effects of noise pollution on animals. The high intensity of sound brings fear, which forces them to leave their homes. Some other effects on animals include:
- When animals are exposed to loud noise, they tend to have a disturbing behaviour in form of trembling. Also, much noise can decrease the capacity of milk production in cows. These animals need a relaxed and peaceful environment to create a better milk yield.
- Studies have validated that noise made by aircraft is responsible for the great decrease in the reproduction activity of a lot of animals. This effect can be since in chickens in form of a sharp decrease in the production of eggs. Also, this intense noise can cause stunted growth in chickens.
- Animals like dolphins and whales that live in water also experience distress as a result of noise pollution caused by shipping companies, submarines, e.t.c.
- Since birds hunt their prey using their sharp hearing abilities, those in the urban areas will surely be at loss due to noise pollution. Also, loud noise can have an effect on the feeding and breeding patterns of some animals negatively. And this can result in the extinction of some certain species.
- Birds that communicate with lower sound frequencies bear the maximum impact of this pollution. This loud noise covers up their sound, making it difficult for male birds difficult to draw the attention of their female counterparts. Though some male birds have a tendency to sing with a loud voice during noise pollution. But, this alteration in vocalization is not that melodious and does not really attract their female mate.
Just like other pollutions, noise pollution must be controlled. Since we have already identified their sources and also consider their effects. How can they be controlled? What preventive measures can we take to reduce its source? Below are some suggestions we can take:
How To Actually Control Noise Pollution?
- People living close to the airport or in the heart of the city often find the aircraft noise disturbing them. In other to curb this aircraft noise, one way is for the aircraft companies to design engines that make less noise. Also, you can reduce the noise that enters your house by installing on your windows a sound barrier secondary glazing device. With this, you can prevent your home from loud noise.
- While driving, avoid listening to music. You may listen to news just as to get yourself updated but it must be on a low tone.
- Factory machines and vehicles should be checked frequently and maintained properly. Improper maintenance of the machines or vehicles will increase their noise level and also decrease their efficiency.
- Since televisions, radios, home theatre, music systems with high volume can cause noise pollution. Endeavour to keep this equipment at a moderate level of volume whenever you use them.
- Workplace appliances should be noiseless. The noise from your photocopier or Printer and can be annoying if it continues coming out all the time. So the best way is to get noiseless office equipment and avoid any form of noise pollution.
- One best way to control noise is effective by wearing ear safety gadgets such as earmuffs whenever you are in a noisy environment.
- Try to use noise-free electronic appliances; these appliances are available in the market, we just need a few more bucks to get them. It is better to get this than pay to doctors for treatment of weakening nerves and hearing.
- For internal communication, use the intercom! Whenever you are with your colleagues in a hall or at the workplace. It is best to use the intercom as the means of communication so as to avoid shouting, making unnecessary noise.
- When arranging your open-air parties, endeavour to lower the volume of your speakers to a moderate level so as not to disturb others or you make provision of headphones for each guest.
- Avoid unnecessary honking in front of your home. The engine of your car should be enough to announce your arrival to your housemates. If need be, once or twice is enough. You don’t need cause noise or disturb others with your car’s honk.
- While typing on your keyboard, make sure you keep your fingers on it so as to avoid that little noise pollution you finger create while typing loudly. This also enables a calm office environment.
- Ensure to keep the engine and silencer of your automobile in a good situation so as to reduce the noise emitted from the car while moving.
Now you know how to actually control noise pollution and effects of noise pollution on Animals and humans.
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