Noise is an inevitable occurrence of our environment. Whether you’re a city dweller or reside in a quiet suburb, you are exposed to different forms of noise. When we think of noise pollution, it doesn’t strike us as a health hazard.
According to United States Environmental Protection Agency, Noise is classified as, “unwanted or disturbing sound”. When sound diminishes the normal quality of life, it becomes unwanted. Sound can often be considered an annoyance. This “annoyance” can have major consequences, primarily to one’s overall health.
When a ‘sound’ is perceived as an interference with normal, everyday activities like when you’re sleeping or conversing with someone, it can become noise. One of the probable reasons why noise pollution hasn’t received a bad rap yet is because it can’t be seen or touched.
Types Of Noise
Noise is generated through different mediums and is classified as follows:
Domestic noise includes loud music or television, barking dogs, burglar alarms and late-night parties, etc.
This would include the noise generated from factories, loud fans, chiller/industrial refrigeration systems, construction sites noise and music from commercial/entertainment establishments.
Noise In Streets
Any noise generated from the streets such as car alarms, vending truck chimes, heavy machinery operating in the road, etc. Other inclusions are loudspeakers deployed on the streets during festivals or events.1
While we can go on with our lives despite the noise surrounding us, it does have a negative impact on our physical and psychological health.
Various Health Factors Affected By Noise Pollution
According to research, noise tends to interfere in the ability to perform complex tasks, alters social behavior and causes annoyance. Studies claim that there is an association between occupational and environmental noise exposure with hypertension.
Individuals who were exposed to continuous noise exceeding 85-90 decibels in industrial settings experienced an increase in noise threshold and loss of hearing.2
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, noise can cause deplorable consequences for your health and is manifested by issues like high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption and reduced productivity.3
How Noise affects our health?
In our brain, noise is often interpreted as a danger signal(s) that instigates a stress response in the body which causes release of several hormones. These hormones are responsible for increasing heart rate, spiking blood pressure as well as depressing the immune system. When someone is exposed to noise for prolonged duration these stress responses have an impact on their cardiovascular system. In fact, noise causes lack of sleep and annoyance that can also heighten stress levels. Stress is another risk factor for heart disease.
Noise And Diabetes
Not only has research in the past associated traffic noise with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, but it also proves that noise may trigger the occurrence of diabetes.4/
Tips To Protect Yourself From Noise
It is imperative that we be aware of noise pollution in the environment we live in and take precautionary measures to mitigate it. Ensure that you protect your ears from blaring noises as much as possible in order to remain healthy.
When traveling to a place or location with massive sound levels, protect your ears with ear plugs or muffs to prevent Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). Additionally, sound proof your walls to ensure some peace and quiet for a good night’s sleep.
Reduce noise by following these tips:
- Reduce the volume on your television, laptop and radio;
- Opt for Noise-cancelling earphones instead of regular earphones;
- Shut out outside noise by closing the door and windows;
- Turn off electronic appliances such as fans and computers when they are in standby mode. It can help save on electricity, too!
|↑1||Noise pollution, Northampton Borough Council.|
|↑2||Noise pollution: Non-auditory effects on health|
|↑3||Noise Levels Affecting Health and Welfare, United States Environmental Protection Agency|
|↑4||Road Traffic Noise and Diabetes: Long-Term Exposure May Increase Disease Risk, Environmental Health Perspectives.|