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Noise Pollution, Causes, Effects, Types and Measures to Control

We all talk about atmospheric pollution and how it is harming the environment but little do we realise that there is another form of pollution that causes a lot of harm without us even realising it and that is noise pollution. Sound can be extremely soothing and sometimes incredibly painful to hear depending on its volume. People who are exposed to high levels of sound for prolonged periods are victims of noise pollution.

Studies show that noise pollution is a dangerous threat to health and is responsible for close to 12,000 premature deaths and 48,000 ischaemic heart disease cases every year.  It can also impair hearing and lead to stress, hypertension and palpitations. Apart from physical ailments it also has psychological effects like a poor attention span, distraction, headaches and irritation. This blog will help you understand what noise pollution means, the different kinds of noise pollution and its causes and prevention.

What is Noise Pollution

Noise is a sound that bothers people because it is too loud or unpleasant. Advanced technology is definitely a cause of noise pollution  increasing rapidly. The human ear can hear sounds of 1dB and according to the WHO, noise is harmful when it crosses 75dB and is painful to the ear at levels above 120 dB.

Unnecessary honking of horns, workers drilling at construction sites, aircraft sounds, crackers, loudspeakers, all add to noise pollution. Cities are the epicentre of noise pollution which is invisible but severely damaging to human beings. The increasing noise around settlements has become a matter of concern. Even televisions and radios contribute to noise pollution when used at a high volume. It is bad for animals, too and can interfere with their breeding cycles and rearing eventually resulting in their extinction.

The word noise has its roots in the Latin word ‘Nausea’, which means to feel the need to vomit. Noise is an undesirable sound which leads to humans feeling uncomfortable and ill. It is recommended to keep noise levels below 65 dB during the day and below 30dB at night for a restful sleep.

Types of Noise Pollution

  • Noise pollution can be broadly divided into 3 types which are all caused by our so called ‘technologically advanced’ lifestyle.

  • Transport Noise
    As the number of vehicles has increased on the roads with each family having anything between 2 to 4 vehicles between themselves, the noise of traffic has increased significantly. Aeroplanes, trains and unnecessary honking of vehicles all add to noise pollution. This increase in noise pollution has been known to cause deafness in older people, hypertension and headaches.

  • Neighbourhood Noise
    Noise from electrical gadgets, banging of utensils and blaring of  televisions, transistors and loudspeakers are all causes of noise pollution in the neighbourhood. If there is a festival or marriage being celebrated in the neighbourhood, music is played on loudspeakers that causes noise pollution.

  • Industrial Noise
    The high decibel sound caused by heavy industrial and electrical machines can damage the hearing of people by around 20 percent.

Causes of Noise Pollution

  • Industrialisation has single handedly managed to add to noise pollution exponentially. Heavy machinery like huge exhaust fans, generators and grinding mills in industries are a major cause of noise pollution.
  • The increased number of vehicles in urban areas with most families having a minimum of 2 vehicles is another major reason for noise pollution. A car horn produces 90 dB, a bus produces 100 dB and a single aircraft produces 130 dB of sound.
  • Events like weddings and public gatherings at festivals have loudspeakers blaring to play music resulting in noise pollution in the neighbourhood. Bars, clubs, pubs and restaurants that spill outside can produce more than 100 dB.
  • Construction sites with their drilling and use of machinery are another culprit causing noise pollution. Pavement resurfacing is very noisy with a pneumatic drill producing 110 dB.
  • Though often unnoticed, noise made by animals like howling dogs, especially when you are trying to sleep at night can produce around 60 to 80 dB.

Effects of Noise Pollution

  • Hypertension is a direct result of noise pollution caused by high blood pressure for an extended time.
  • Hearing difficulties and hearing loss are caused by frequent exposure to sounds that are beyond the range of sound that can be tolerated by human ears. Man-made noises such as traffic horns, drills and aeroplanes are too loud for human ears and can damage the eardrums.
  • It can also result in sleeping disorders causing  fatigue and low energy levels during the day.  Noise pollution disturbs the sleep patterns leading to discomfort and irritation.
  • Noise pollution at offices, construction sites and homes can affect psychological health causing disturbed sleep, stress, hypertension and aggressive behaviour and can cause chronic health issues.
  • Loud and high intensity sound can cause stress, palpitations and your heartbeat and blood pressure to rise. Loud sound interferes with normal blood flow and can cause cardiovascular diseases.

Prevention of Noise Pollution

  • Some preventive measures to control noise pollution are given in the points below.
  • Unnecessary honking of horns should be avoided at all costs and honking  in public places like hospitals, educational institutes etc. should be banned.
  • Loud horns that blair and use sirens when not required should be banned.
  • Soundproof systems should be installed in commercial, hospital and industrial buildings .
  • Music in public places should be controlled and played at safe volumes and definitely not on loudspeakers.
  • Planting trees and ensuring a dense tree cover has proved to be very effective in controlling noise pollution.
  • Explosives should be avoided in forest, mountain and mining areas.
  • Firecrackers, especially those that produce sound, should be banned.

The effects of noise pollution are grossly underestimated but the fact is that sounds above 75 dB can damage the eardrum and cause hearing issues. It also causes a variety of other physical and psychological issues like irritation, disturbed sleep, hypertension and heart issues. Most of the noise pollution is due to our technologically advanced life and happens in the name of development.  Increased traffic with blaring horns, talking on mobile phones for hours on end and loud music to name a few have become a part of urban life. Industrialisation with its heavy machinery also adds to the problem. It is the need of the hour to control and if possible prevent the different causes of noise pollution. At EuroKids, you can get a whole lot of other noise pollution information including  air pollution and water pollution. You can also get more details on the different types of noise pollution, the role it can play on our health and some of the ways that it can be prevented.

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